Monday, June 18, 2007


1. Perfectionism.
Symptom: Student thinks all writing is supposed to be flawless on the first try.
Suggestion: Assure the student that a first draft is just that, a FIRST draft, a first attempt to get something down on paper. The first draft is the unrefined ore from the mine. It has to come out, and nobody expects it to be much good until it is improved. Fresh notebook pages can be intimidating; try scratch paper

2. Assignments too broad or too vague.
Symptom: Student freezes up, stares at the paper or computer screen and doesn’t know where to start.
Suggestion: Narrow down the assignment to make it as specific as possible. “Write about our trip to the Grand Canyon” floods the student’s mind with so many impressions that there’s no definite place to start. “Tell how the rock colors changed as the sun went down” is an assignment with a sharper focus.

3. Embarrassment.
Symptom: Student is ashamed of being a bad writer and doesn’t want to display it.
Suggestion: Try for one small improvement at a time, maybe a few more definite words, or one or two more lively actions in one scene of a story, or varying the sentence lengths in one paragraph. Count every improvement as a success!

4. Resignation.
Symptom: Student thinks “I can’t write” and that it’s no use to try.
Suggestion: Search for a different focus for writing besides “learning to write.” What is the student’s own best reason to write? To explain himself, to teach a skill, to enlist others in an unusual hobby, to save a memory, to right a wrong? Start there. Or use the flying-start approach with existing published writing. Take a familiar story and ask “How could it end differently? Start differently?”

5. Mechanical difficulties.
Symptom: Student has trouble managing the pen or pencil or keyboard.
Suggestion: Experiment with what works best at this stage of the student’s physical development. Typing is not sacred if the student does better with a pencil, and vice versa. Work in spurts; take frequent breaks. Maybe take time to just practice handwriting or keyboarding, then tackle writing when the student is six months older.


Julie's Jewels said...

This is really good!! Why couldn't you have done this when I really needed it? LOL!! My girls are graduating's too late!! Just kidding. These are really good helps to each of the given problems.

Pat said...

Great insight Pam!! Sure it will encourage young writers!! (and Moms who homeschool!)

Sarah said...

Hi There!

I found you through Anna's Musings. . . I am a second grade teacher, and I give parents two tips to get their kids interested and adept at writing:
1. Read!! The best way to encourage children writing is to show them amazing examples to spark their curiousity and intrigue. They will naturally want to recreate what they are seeing.
2. Encourage activity! Sustained writing requires a great deal of fine and gross motor coordination that comes with time. However, physical activity greatly increases their abilities. How much would your kids love it if you told them that they were going swimming for their handwriting lesson today?

Thanks for your tips. . . I enjoyed your blog!

PortraitofPeter said...

A wonderful education piece - have you mastered it yet??

Jungle Mom said...

And let them blog it!! They love to k now others are reading what they write!

Penless Thoughts said...

I think this could apply to all os us!!!

Ruth said...

As a 5th-8th grade Language Arts teacher, I love this! Very good!!

Mishel said...

What a great post! We had a *very* hard time with my sweet Ashleigh dealing with #1 on your list. I dreaded going over her rough drafts because she would cry and cry (when she was younger) over the tiniest correction. Thankfully as she got older, she grew out it--somewhat. : )

Daughter of the King said...

This is sooo good..Thanks for the great tips and things to ponder on.
lmk...about the other thing (wink)

Frazzled Farm Wife said...

I've got one that could write on and on and on and then one that would rather do Math. I think some people just have a more creative mind.

Kitty said...

This is so helpful!! We are doing a creative writing activity every day for our summer school, and I have one boy (10) who has great difficulties with his writing. Thank you for helping ME to help HIM!! =)

MizzE said...

You're awakening the retired teacher in me.
I was going to say "give a holler if you need some art lessons", but I think you'll be fine.

Just in case though, I did post a Uchiwa fan with Haiku lesson here:

List of materials is in the comments section.

MizzE said...

Sorry, looks like the link is broken, so
fan lesson is here

Pallacanestro said...

lol, those moments sound familiar!

BrittLeigh said...

Wow, that's good! Very true!! Doesn't just apply to kids ;)

jennifer said...

Mrs. Pam class has come to order and you have our apt attention.

You are so right on! I love these tips and all parents/ no everyone should read and repeat!


HsKubes said...

These are some great ideas, Pam. Thanks for sharing. ;o)

~ Christina

Ashley said...

irk...writing. LOL I always got good grades on it, still hated it. LOL Writing has never been a favorite pass time of mine, unless it's a story I'm writing or a poem. But book reports...blah...

Happymama said...

Wonderful suggestions!! I have one that LOVES to write and one that literally would CRY when she had to write something. I flooded her with writing that year. She still doesn't love it, but she has seen her potential and even won an essay contest this year. :)


Sherry said...

Hi Pam, I'm back...been busy going through kids' clothes to take them to the salvation army or the goodwill. Also been summer cleaning. Sorry, don't spring clean here in Ohio. Too cold in the spring here. LOL

Jodi said...

A wonderfully encouraging post for many homeschooling moms. I know so many *moms* that freeze up at the idea of teaching writing. This is a great troubleshooting list with matching solutions!

Tiany said...

Thanks for this Pam, I can surely use it! :-)