How to Teach a Reluctant Writer

How to Teach a Reluctant Writer

Reluctant writer working hard
Reluctant writer working hard

Writing can be hard work. Good writing often results from much rewriting, and much rewriting can make a writer weary.

As a writer, I understand the challenges students face when they are learning how to write. A blank page can be incredibly intimidating.

As a homeschool mom and writing teacher, I also understand how difficult it can be to try to teach a reluctant writer. It’s easy to feel inadequate.

Thankfully, after 40+ years of writing, I’ve discovered a few techniques and tips that can transform a reluctant writer into a confident communicator.

If you’d like a little guidance on how to inspire a student who is reluctant to write, keep reading….

Writing is a powerful and essential skill.

Writing is an essential skill that can impact our children’s success in many critical areas. In the world, writing can be a powerful key that unlocks many doors. In the kingdom, it can be used to help people find the key that unlocks eternity.

We can understand the importance of writing, but when it comes to teaching it, sometimes we find ourselves on shaky ground.

Good writing requires clear thinking.

Let’s face it, writing can be hard. It requires clear thinking about the content that is being communicated.

Writing can be an effective means of developing critical thinking. But if we expect our budding writers to create quality content while they are just beginning to learn formal writing techniques, we may overwhelm them.

Writing and researching are two separate skills.

Research is a process of finding, gathering, and studying and analyzing content. It’s a valuable skill for students to learn, but it is different than writing.

How many times have you heard your children say, “But I don’t know what to write about!”?

Let your students use a model for their writing. When you allow your children to practice and develop writing skills while drawing content from a model, you alleviate the stress of trying to manage two separate learning curves simultaneously.

Good writing requires much rewriting.

When I taught the pilot program of a core curriculum called Philosophy Adventure, the primary writing assignment was rigorous. Students worked through seven checklists:

  1. START - Select your subject
  2. SUBSTANCE - Collect content
  3. STRUCTURE - Sequence and support of your content
  4. STYLE - Playfully personalize your piece
  5. POLISH - Prepare for your first audience
  6. PEER CRITIQUE - First readers to give you feedback
  7. EVALUATION - Submit your final draft

Typically, students started out enthusiastic about the assignment, but somewhere around the 5th checklist, they often started asking, “Aren’t I finished with this yet?”

The process taught them perseverance.

The students’ journey from first draft to final submission was painful at times. However, when they finished their assignment, I often heard them say with pride and amazement, “I can’t believe I wrote this!”

Don’t be afraid to prod your students to polish a piece until it gleams!

Offset the hard work of writing with creative play!

Because Philosophy Adventure students refine one primary writing assignment over the course of several weeks, we created freewriting exercises to offset their hard work.

These exercises take the pressure off the writing process and let students simply have fun. If you'd like to try one of these exercises with your kids, click below.

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