Few students are neutral on writing; most either love or hate the subject. Unfortunately for students who don’t enjoy it, writing is too important to be ignored. Writing is a skill that is used in every single subject in school, and will continue to be useful in the work place. Here are some tips on how to encourage a reluctant writer!
Two types of reluctant writers
Most reluctant writers can be divided into two categories. First are students who struggle with assigned papers and topics, but are happy to write projects they choose themselves. Second are students who are reluctant to write anything at all, struggling equally in all academic areas; these students often need the most instruction, support, and encouragement in the writing process.
Encouraging reluctant writers
The following five tips can help encourage reluctant writers.
1. Build writing stamina. A reluctant writer may balk at the idea of 30 minutes or more of uninterrupted writing time. Help build their writing stamina by working in small bursts, slowly increasing the amount of time spent writing. Word sprints like seeing how many words you can write in a certain number of minutes, or word wars like seeing who can write the most words in a certain number of minutes, are fun and fast drills that can get students writing a lot in a small amount of time.
2. Brainstorm together. Many reluctant writers struggle getting their thoughts down on paper in an organized way. To combat this, brainstorm ideas or topics together to create an outline; students can then use this outline as a guide to help them as they write, keeping them focused and on track.
3. Share often. Give students the opportunity to share their work. Reading aloud from class assignments, writing a post for a class blog or website, or sharing a poem or short story are all ways to encourage students to write. Likewise, receiving positive feedback from their peers can help inspire students to keep writing.
4. Write outside of the notebook. Elementary students in particular can benefit from writing with materials other than paper and pencil. Dry erase boards, chalk, markers, legal pads, and copy paper are examples of different materials that create different styles of writing. Changing the tools of writing can be particularly helpful for students struggling with handwriting. Likewise, writing activities such as scribing – when one students dictates and the other writes – can be a fun partner exercise for reluctant writers.
5. Allow free choice. Especially important for those unwilling to do class work, allowing students to choose their own topics or writing projects can encourage reluctant writers. Writing a short story, crafting a poem, creating a comic, or using words in an art project are all unique ways to encourage kids to get writing!