"My Child Hates Writing"
I hear this so often from parents. Why is this? That’s a conversation I love to have with teachers and colleagues whose writing instruction I truly respect. As my cohorts and I discuss the why of this phenomenon, we come to very similar conclusions: It’s the fear of failing at writing. The next question then becomes, how do we set young writers up for success? Writing for a grade is unavoidable and a bit scary especially when you’re just learning how to hold a pencil. Add to that encoding a language that you have spoken for your whole life and it could be downright intimidating. So, as parents, teachers, and coaches of young writers, why can’t we shift the initial focus of writing from perfecting spelling, grammar, and conventions of writing to the storytelling aspect? Thus, building on the strength of a known, child’s oral language, to build to the unknown of the written language. Grammar, spelling, and conventions of writing certainly need explicit instruction. I also believe that young writers would benefit from teaching within a context that allows for creativity and storytelling that truly matter to the child. This most specifically applies to our youngest writers. Kindergarteners and First Graders need to love writing, then we will see greater progress in mastering the conventions of writing. The conventions of writing are so black and white. You’re either right or you’re wrong. To help the child feel comfortable enough to take a risk, we need to give them a little gray area. To give them a chance to safely fail before asking them for high-stakes mastery. The learning is in the struggle. Success comes from learning.