Writing is one of those subjects we don’t talk much about. It’s there, simmering on the back burner, as we devote our time and energy to the subjects we know need emphasis: reading and math. If writing is not high on your homeschool priority list, consider these 5 reasons why you can’t teach your child to write. Do any of these statements resonate with you?
Like many of us experience, we have so many negative feelings associated with writing that we’d just as soon wait until next year to start or let someone else do the teaching for us.
My hope is that you will find this article, 5 reasons why you can’t teach your child to write and facts that will change your mind, to be the encouragement and gentle nudge you need to stop avoiding teaching writing and to pursue it with excitement.
I can’t teach my child to write, because I’m not a strong writer.
When you feel inadequate as a writer, teaching writing might seem terrifying. We all know how easy it is to teach something we feel confident in. If you’re a math wiz, then teaching math probably comes easy for you and you don’t feel threatened at all by teaching concepts like long division and percentages.
But if you do not feel proficient in your own writing skills, teaching your child to write may feel unsettling. You may worry that you’ll pass on your writing mistakes or just not have much to offer in regard to helping your child develop better writing skills.
I have feelings of inadequacy all the time.
When I write I struggle with organizing my thoughts and articulating my ideas clearly. It doesn’t seem to come naturally to me and is hard work. Now that my daughter is in middle school I feel even more unqualified to teach her writing. I don’t have any experience teaching writing beyond the elementary level-am I in way over my head?
Sometimes she’ll ask me questions about a word choice she’s considering that I really can’t answer. I have to get out the thesaurus or look up words in the dictionary in order to help her use them properly in the context of her sentences. At other times, when she reads me one of her stories, I know she has room for growth, but I can’t seem to identify what exactly is missing or think of a specific strategy to help her improve.
You can teach your child to write, and you’ll grow as a writer during the process.
If you are homeschooling your child you are definitely qualified to teach her to write. You can write, therefore you can teach your child to write. You don’t have to be the next best-selling author to be successful in teaching your own child.
Writers are always growing. The more you write, the better you become, and that will help you gain more confidence in teaching your child to write.
Through your own writing journey you can reflect on the skills you use and share any tips you have with your child. When you write you are identifying with your child. You experience the same challenges together, and that can give you insight as to how he or she may be feeling.
There are many wonderful quotes about writing by writers that are encouraging. Here are a few that seem to speak directly to me:
Get it down. Take chances. It may be bad, but it’s the only way you can do anything really good. – William Faulkner
You only learn to be a better writer by actually writing. –Doris Lessing
If I waited for perfection, I would never write. –Margaret Atwood
I can’t teach my child to write, because I don’t know where to start, what sequence to follow, or how to measure his writing.
Writing is such an ambiguous subject it’s no wonder we push it aside. We can handle the other subjects.
Math is logical and sequential. Teach number sense first so your child knows what a number 5 represents then move on to adding and subtracting. History seems straightforward. Read and discuss stories from the past. Science is about inquiry. Explore the world through hands-on experiments and by asking questions.
Writing develops through stages, just as reading does.
But in writing, you are not deciphering the written code, you’re creating it for someone else to decipher. It’s a form of communication, like speaking, but there are certain rules to follow.
You don’t get the benefit of having a listener look you in the eye and interact with you. And you can’t be present with your reader who is making meaning from your written text. You just have to cross your fingers and hope your message is clear.
Have you ever thought about how many skills are required in writing? Grammar, word choice, punctuation, spelling, sentence structure, organization, drafting, and revising to name a few! No wonder teaching writing is so intimidating to us parents. How do you possibly teach all the necessary skills in a way that makes it all click for your child, enabling him to produce a quality piece of writing?
There are resources to help you. This website is a good starting place.
There are writing curriculums designed especially for homeschoolers that you can purchase as well as free writing resources on the internet. Please visit my Pinterest page to browse resources, like lesson plans and writing expectations for specific grade levels.
Writing Ideas for Preschool
Writing Ideas for Primary (K-2)
Writing Ideas for Upper Elementary (3-5)
Writing Ideas for Middle (6-8)
Join the homeschool notes email list to get notifications of latest posts, printables, and writing products that become available.
I can’t teach my child to write, because he will complain, and then we’ll both be unhappy.
When you ask your children to get out their pencils and paper and start to write, you may cringe anticipating the moans and groans that will ensue. Their hands hurt, they don’t know what to write, they don’t know where to start-you’ve heard it all.
It doesn’t take long for you to question yourself about attempting any writing with your kids. You didn’t sign up to be the bad guy and the complaining takes its toll on you, so you throw in the towel and go back to doing whatever keeps your household peaceful.
Don’t worry; I’ve been there.
The truth is writing can be challenging for your kids for a number of reasons. It takes both physical and mental strength to write. If your children are really young, they may not have developed the fine motor skills needed to hold their pencils correctly or have the physical stamina to sit still for very long. Forming letters and making them legible is hard work.
On top of that is the mental challenge of composing a piece of writing. There is so much thinking required to stay focused on the subject, organize the ideas, choose the best words, elaborate, and pay attention to mechanics like grammar, spelling, and punctuation.
Writing is one of the most difficult activities we engage in. –Margaret Perkins, author of Observing Primary Literacy.
You can acknowledge the difficulties and work with them to make writing enjoyable.
Taking time to reflect on what difficulties your children are facing can help you know what steps to take to make writing a positive experience. Asking yourself, “What does my child need?” is more productive than, “Why won’t my child just do her writing work?” even if the latter is what you are really thinking.
Here are just a few examples of how identifying the problem and making slight changes can help keep writing time enjoyable:
- If your child is young and not able to write words yet, you may want to have her dictate a story to you while you act as scribe. Let her watch you write the words she says.
- If your child tires easily you could give him shorter periods of time to write and then challenge him by increasing that time each day. Using a timer and charting his progress may be encouraging to him.
- If your child has trouble planning out her ideas, teach her how to use a graphic organizer to stay focused and have something to refer to when she picks up her writing the next day.
I can’t teach my child to write, because I don’t have time.
Writing can’t be done in five minutes. It takes time to brainstorm, process ideas, and write them down. Some children take longer to write than others.
Writing can easily take a huge chunk of your morning work time. To keep the flow going for children, and give them the writing practice they need, it’s best they have a significant amount of time to write every day.
But homeschoolers have busy schedules.
There are so many topics to study, activities to be involved in, projects to work on, field trips to go on, chores to do, that you just can’t possibly do everything.
Writing can easily be neglected.
Making time for writing is time well spent.
Make writing time a regular routine and expectation in your homeschool.
Just like you devote time to read to your kids and they read independently every day, writing deserves, if not requires, the same respect. When you give writing the same enthusiasm as you do reading, you will find that it is time well spent.
My daughter started writing at a young age. Every day we sat together at her little wooden table and worked in our writing folders. I wrote and she wrote. Some of my best homeschooling memories were made at that table sharing ideas together, reading, and listening to each other’s work.
Over time I watched her grow as a writer and fall in love with writing.
I had no idea how significant that daily writing time would be, and I’ll never regret finding a way to fit it into our schedule. I know daily writing helped lay the foundation so now writing is not something she fears or dreads, but rather enjoys and pursues.
I can’t teach my child to write, because she doesn’t know how to read yet. I don’t think it’s necessary to teach writing in the early grades.
Maybe you’re under the assumption that your children need to be able to read before they can write. Doesn’t it seem logical?
You also may think that teaching your children handwriting skills and spelling is all that is necessary at the lower and upper elementary grades. After all, real writing begins in middle school and high school when children need to learn how to write essays and research papers to prepare for college. But with that view, you limit writing to be solely practical, ignoring its function of creative expression that’s so healthy for young ones.
Teaching writing is important. It’s never too early to start.
It was once believed that children learned to talk, read, and then write. But current research tells us differently.
Many children start communicating through writing before they know how to read.
You know how important reading to your babies, toddlers, and preschoolers is for their success in learning to read. Imagine what you can do for their writing development if you are committed to providing them with writing opportunities.
Of course your babies won’t be writing with pencils, but establishing a writing culture early on in your home sets the groundwork for their future writing success.
- Does your toddler see you writing with purpose?
- Do you provide writing materials for him to explore writing through play?
Give him a little notepad and crayons to make his own grocery list as you make yours. Talk about what you are writing. Encourage him to draw pictures. Ask him questions and give him praise for what he has written.
Teaching writing is so much more than handwriting and spelling.
It’s about giving your children a voice where they can express who they are as individuals. Writing encourages their creativity, exploration and leads to self-understanding. And let’s not forget that writing can be very therapeutic.
In the old days education was all about the three R’s: reading, writing and arithmetic. These were the basic academic skills. But today we seem to place more emphasis on reading and math. If our kids can read we feel we’ve done well. If they are good at math, then we feel relieved. But how much emphasis do we really put on writing?
My hope is that by reflecting on these 5 reasons you can’t teach your child to write and facts that will change your mind, you will feel inspired to tackle writing with your child for the first time or to keep pressing on with the great writing work you are already doing in your homeschool.
Are you teaching your child to write?
I’d love to hear from you. What struggles are you facing? Do you feel like you can’t teach your child to write? Please feel free to share your comments below.
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