6 simple truths about writing with kids
1. Kids only want to write a paper once.
But getting it right the first time is pie-in-the-sky. Perfectionism sets your child up for failure.
2. The writing process is a lot like scrapbooking.
Analogies are great teaching tools!
Let’s say you have a dozen photos to use in a layout. Once you set the photos down, you wonder if there’s a better way to arrange them. You angle several pictures. Perhaps you crop a few to focus more on the subject. Then you move two or three others around, trying different arrangements.
Finally, you realize the page will look much cleaner with fewer photos, so you carefully choose your favorites and make your final layout.
The writer does the same thing with ideas, words, and sentences—removing, replacing, arranging and rearranging, adding colorful touches—until the final composition is as pleasing to the eye as a well-arranged scrapbook page.
3. Rewriting is the key to writing.
Say it till you believe it. Then tell it to your kids until they believe it too! Remind them that their rough draft is just that—rough. The real writing takes place once the ideas are in place. Good writing results from frequent editing and revising.
4. Pre-writing activities don’t teach independent writing.
Though pre-writing activities teach valuable skills, they’re just a small part of the writing process. Instead, use writing games, journaling prompts, and pre-writing exercises to warm your kids up before the “real” writing begins.
5. Writing needs to be relevant.
As often as possible, give your child a say in choosing a topic. When a student is passionate about hockey, horses, World War II, or Lord of the Rings, you’ll get more (and better) writing from him because he has a vested interest in the subject matter.
6. Writing takes time.
And there’s no way around this. Of course, in a classroom, teachers just don’t have enough time to devote to thorough writing instruction. But if you’re homeschooling, you have the luxury of helping your kids nurture a writing assignment from start to finish.
When writing with kids, there are no shortcuts. But time, patience, parent involvement, and helpful analogies can smooth the way!
Scrapbooking layout of my darling grandchildren, courtesy of Karah Fredricks.
Photo of boy: bikephotomusic, courtesy of Creative Commons.
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