Teaching Writing Without Tears » Little Learning Lovies

Teaching Writing Without Tears

Teaching children to write is challenging. When they shut down or break down, as they may at some point, it takes infinite patience and savvy technique to get them to pick up their pens and write again. Parents, you will need to positively persevere with your children in this pursuit to express their thoughts in the written word.

Teaching Writing doesn't have to be hard when you begin with the end in mind!

There are many things to tear up about in the writing process, but for children to have success, I suggest following four basic steps. These should make the process easier.

1. Write in every subject.
2. Set small goals.
3. Begin with the end in mind.
4. Encourage self-evaluation.

Write in every subject

At the bottom of every worksheet, have your child write either a summary sentence or an opinion sentence about her work. This encourages evaluation, a higher level thinking skill.

For example, after a math lesson, she may say or write: “I finally understand double-digit subtraction.” or “I got a 90, but I still don’t like math.”

In science, she may write: “The three states of matter are solid, liquid, and gas.”

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In English she may write : “Capitalization is going to take a long time to learn.”

Social studies: Patriots’ Day is April 19, 1775, and celebrates “the shot heard around the world.”

The practice of writing in every subject, known as writing across the curriculum,

avoids the whole issue of “Now we are going to do a writing assignment.”

Writing is really hard.

I don’t know if you agree, but honestly, I don’t even like writing. I like what I’ve produced afterward, but the process itself is taxing.

Writing requires thinking, evaluating, and creating, so it’s very important to teach children to write, but it requires lots of encouragement and patience. Remember to take baby steps, but start in kindergarten.

Set Small Goals

If you have a kindergartner, write the sentence she dictates.

Later in the year, have her pitch in and write a few of the new words she has learned. As she learns more, you’ll be the one who pitches in to help her.

In the 2nd and 3rd grades, she can write a couple of sentences. Make one a summary sentence and another a detail sentence that supports her summary. If she wants to give an opinion about what she’s learned, have one sentence be the opinion and the other a detail or example to support it.

Encourage accuracy along the way. For example, since she will be writing about what she’s read, have her make sure that her words are spelled correctly. In fact, she should use the text to ensure her accuracy.

By the fifth grade, she will be writing a paragraph on two or three subjects a day, but six paragraphs a day may be a bit much. Gauge your child’s enthusiasm for writing. Continue to support her as needed, but at the same time provide her with autonomy as well.

By the eighth grade, she should be able to write a four-paragraph essay. By now, she probably prefers one subject over another, but remind her that she needs to be able to write in different subjects.

Throughout high school she will work toward a competent, mostly perfect five-paragraph essay. In the ninth grade, you should encourage her to write longer paragraphs or push to get the third subtopic that will make the fifth paragraph.

Obviously, she won’t be writing an essay every day, but help her to engage in different types of writing daily, such as a journal, a science log, or a how-to instructional.

Begin With the End in Mind

In order to do this, you need to know what she needs to be successful.

In my humble opinion, it’s a pretty safe bet that if she can

–write an introductory paragraph with a strong thesis statement, and a minimum of three body paragraphs for different types of essays, including creative, informative, and persuasive, using various techniques like comparison/contrast, chronological order, and description, as well as write a competent, concluding paragraph,

she will be prepared to enter college or the workplace and hold her own.

Can we have an AMEN!

On the bright side, you have many, many years to work toward this goal. And just like any goal, the success by which it is accomplished is determined by how well one remains focused on it.

So starting from day one in kindergarten, slowly, steadily, and positively encourage her growth and development with each writing opportunity.

Encourage Self-Evaluation

“I thought vibrant was a much better word than colorful in your paragraph today, Amy. Did you like it too?”

Applaud her efforts when she looks for a better word, checks her punctuation, or reworks sentences to better convey her ideas.

Ask her what she thinks about her paragraph and essays. What was her favorite paragraph? Which of the new words she used, did she like the best?

Brainstorm with her about different approaches to essays, like using humor to write about a history lesson. For example, she may want to write an essay on the causes of the Civil War by writing, “How To Start a Civil War in Four Easy Steps.”

Over the years as she learns to mix up her writing with a bit with humor, vivid description, and wit, she will discover her voice and personal style. She will mature as a writer and demand more of herself. She will become internally motivated to write better, which is the defining characteristic of a true writer.

About the Author Diana Boles

Hi, I am a retired public school teacher of English, Reading, and ESL. I have a bachelor's in journalism, and A.B.T. for a master's in creative writing from the University of Texas at El Paso, a master's in educational administration from New Mexico State University.My desire to be a writer grew from an intense nosiness about people and things in the world. I worked for the El Paso Times for two years, taught writing at a business college, as well as ESL at El Paso Community College and the Universidad Autonimo en Ciudad Juarez, Mexico.

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