By Melissa Webb
Not everyone likes writing and that can be a problem when that person is your child.
The truth is, for some, the dislike for writing will never change. It may. It can. But, it may not.
There is no denying that writing is a part of life. Your child can't get away with never writing. Teachers will require it. Employers will expect it. Self-employment demands it, too.
So, how do we help our reluctant writers solve this persisting annoyance and undertake the inevitable?
Acceptance is part of the solution, but I don't mean that your child must accept that writing is a part of life. (They'll figure that out on their own.)
I'm talking about your acceptance level.
Your child may never love to write, read a novel, or complete complex math problems.
Are you okay with that? Not all are.
Some parents say things like, "Of course you like this!" Or, "You better start liking it! It's never going away." How about, "Too bad. I don't really care if you don't like this."
These kinds of statements may motivate our children to complete the work at hand but rarely does it change the heart.
Although I am focusing on the subject of writing, those sentences might be spoken by parents or teachers during many circumstances, right?!
I know because I've said those exact words to my own children - and some of my former students, too. (Someone once said, "When you point a finger at others, remember three are pointing back at you!") ☜ I am just as guilty as you are.
There has to be a better way.
Today I want to focus on the three most common writing obstructions, provide some practical interventions, and offer strategies to help our children with their negative thought patterns.
✍ 3 Most Common Writing Struggles Young Writers Face
Which of these three stumbling blocks best describes your unenthusiastic writer?
Oh no! All three?! Don't lose hope!
✍ Practical Tools & Interventions
1. Hand strengthening exercises really do work. With Google and Pinterest at our fingertips, the resources abound. My suggestion is to make it as fun as possible. Here are some ideas I've saved for students on PINTEREST.
2. Find a wonderful curriculum that works for your child. Creating fun writing lessons is my area of expertise! Sometimes having another person lead the lessons and offer feedback changes things up just enough for the struggle to cease.
HINT: I have a SUMMER WRITING COURSE!
3. Empathize with your child’s emotions. It’s true. Life is not a bowl of cherries. At some time, we are all stuck doing things we’d prefer not to do. Sometimes that means life gets hard or uncomfortable. Being aware of WHY that happens and how to change the thinking from negative to positive thoughts will help your child now AND in the future. And, a warm, reassuring hug can go a long way.
VIDEO: (10 Minutes)
✍ Emotional Strategies
Did you notice something about all three of the common writing obstacles children face?
They lead to negative thoughts and beliefs. No wonder students say they don't like writing!
1. Writing hurts!
2. I'm not smart enough to know what to write.
3. Writing is a waste of time.
Those are real thoughts leading to authentic and negative feelings and emotions. It makes sense.
Why not say, "Of course you don't like writing, honey. It hurts your hand. Let's try some fun strengthening exercises."
Or, "Of course you don't like writing, kiddo. I wouldn't either if I wasn't sure what to write. This new writing program is going to show us what to do step-by-step. Let's give it a try."
How about, "Of course you don't like writing. You don't realize how much your thoughts matter to the world. You have great ideas and imagination. What do you think is important for other people to know or understand?"
All of these accept our children's authentic feelings without changing them but still offer solutions and hope.
My friends, life is made up of good and bad, happy and sad. (Insert ?Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together.”) It’s so true though. Life is a mix of both positive and negative emotions. Why not embrace the contrast that naturally surrounds all of us?
There is no need to shelter our children from realizing some things worth doing will be difficult for a multitude of reasons. Let's not talk them out of their feelings. Let's not try to change their feelings. We can embrace them instead. Admit when something is not fun or exciting and simply be okay with that reality.
In time, we can empower our children by helping them learn ways to change their own thoughts and beliefs. THAT is the parenting challenge!
For now, go ahead and try everything you have up your sleeve to make learning fun. Don’t give up on that dream. Stay positive and optimistic. Our children need and desire to see that in us.
Just remember, teaching our children how to accept and manage their thoughts, and navigate well through life's ups and downs, will help them long after their essays are written.
Have you watched your child's attitude or thoughts do a turnaround in writing or any other subject? What happened? What has worked for you? Please feel free to comment below.
Thinking about a SPRING MAKEOVER for your child's learning space?
This week I was thinking back to those middle school days when I preferred math problems over writing assignments any day of the week.
Funny, right? I'm a writing teacher!
Math was simple. There were specific rules to follow and reliable formulas on which I could depend. All I had to do was take my time, follow the steps, and produce the answer.
On the other hand, writing was a complete mystery to me.
Why some of my school essays would return to me with an “A” and others a “C’ boggled my mind. After all, I followed the teacher’s vague instructions each time. Why did my grades keep on fluctuating?
By the end of eighth grade, I decided writing just wasn’t my thing.
Until, as a freshman in high school, that ONE teacher offered explicit instruction, high-standard expectations, and sincere encouragement.
People like her.
As I've considered all the teachers I've had, I can't help but think of my own mother. It was my mother who, regardless of any teacher I had at the time, was always willing to help. My mother believed in me and was a constant encourager.
Now, as a teacher, it is my ambition to teach with passion, expect the best, and encourage with love and patience.
Funny. It feels exactly like what I do as a mother.
We teach our children first to crawl and then to walk. We put the first crayons in their hands and sit for hours reading Curious George and Dr. Suess over and over. We teach them to tie their shoes and sort their own socks by color and size. We show them how a seed we plant in the dirt will grow into a flower, fruit, or vegetable. We ignite their imaginations and take them to magical places like Disneyland!
Yep, that sounds like P.E., art, language arts, math, science, history, and field trips, too!
Whether you homeschool, have homeschooled, or never desire to homeschool, as a mother you are a teacher. And a darn good one, too!
So, HAPPY TEACHER APPRECIATION WEEK, my friends.
And, Happy Mother's Day, too.
What a title! Right?
How does that POST TITLE make you feel?
⇛A little defensive?
⇛A bit too personal?
⇛Eager to protest?
And, how does it make me sound - as the writer?
As the month is coming to a close, we are wrapping up our ARGUMENTATIVE WRITING COURSE.
My students are amazing. Perhaps I am biased. I'm okay with that accusation.
Indeed, though, their essays are quite impressive. And this generation gives me great hope for our global well being. These are bright, hard-working, eager-to-learn children.
This month we practiced strengthening our more formal, academic voices.
That meant leaving the personal pronouns out of things. Sounds relatively easy, right?
Not so much.
However, it is easy enough for us to teach our children how to make a few subtle and simple changes. These suggestions can take any child's writing to a whole new level.
Let me share an example.
This talented and bright student decided to take on the topic of young children and their cellphone use. She claims that the negative impacts of cellphone use outweigh the good. She has some excellent evidence to support her claim.
And, yet, it is not as convincing as it could be. Why?
Well, it sounds too personal and informal. Taking the time to teach this young writer a few simple strategies made all the difference.
What you are about to read is her closing paragraph. She did a fantastic job of restating her thesis. She threw in the opposing viewpoint. As well, she has a clear call to action. That is ALL wonderful! And, yet, we made it even better by ditching those personal pronouns.
I really hope that you are reconsidering a cellphone for your child for the sake of development, friendship, and learning. Yes, there are a few okay reasons, but you can see unpleasant reasons outweigh the good ones. You should think twice before making this expensive investment.
It is time to reconsider purchasing cellphones for young children. A child's development, social skills, and learning are all negatively affected. There are benefits linked to cellphone use, but for children, those are outweighed by the many unpleasant ones. Think twice before making such an expensive investment for any young child.
Are you able to hear AND feel the difference between these two paragraphs?
The first paragraph feels more informal, directly personal - even accusatory!
The second paragraph invites the reader to agree with the writer and join the team.
In an argumentative writing piece the goal is to bring the reader to our side of the argument. If we put our reader on the defense, we may lose that opportunity.
So, how might you take this writing tip and place it in your lesson plans this week?
Need some ideas?
Write On! That is exactly what I offer.
VISIT US at WRITEONWEBB.COM and join our ever-growing, fun-loving community of young writers.
There is actually a website called just that! spicespicebaby.com
Isn't that great?! I love it.
And, if you need recipe ideas, you must check it out.
Lately, I've had a growing interest in learning about the health benefits related to herbs and spices.
Spices have been a hot commodity for centuries. Do you recall learning about that? Think back. We're talking World History class, my friends. Yep, there was a time when spices were more valuable than GOLD!
Today we take cinnamon, clove, and even black pepper for granted, but at one time only the very wealthy enjoyed such luxuries as those.
This weekend I read an interesting article on the 5 Best Health Boosting Spices for Beginners.
Let me summarize it for you.
The five they discuss in the article include: (1) cardamom, (2) turmeric, (3) cinnamon, (4) paprika, and (5) cumin.
As well, some of the health benefits mentioned - certainly not all - include:
CARDAMOM - anti-oxidant, lowers blood pressure, anti-inflammatory & helps with digestion
TURMERIC - pain relief, improvement in liver function, & helps with arthritis
CINNAMON - lowers blood sugar & helps cut the risk of heart disease
PAPRIKA - induces sleep, speeds the healing of wounds, & can prevent hair loss
CUMIN - a rich source of iron, boosts immunity, & increases lactation
Besides being beneficially healthful, spices are all-natural and can expand the palates of young children. If that isn't enough, they can be so DELICIOUS!
Let's get cookin', mommas!
While I travel down road of knowledge, I want to share what I am learning.
It sure would be SPICE - I mean NICE - to hear what you know, too!
WHAT I'M MAKING THIS WEEK: TURMERIC CHICKEN ZOODLE SOUP
I'm adding a comment box below, so I truly hope you enlighten us with what you know! We would all benefit.
There's no thyme like the present.
Whether this is your first, third, or tenth year homeschooling, the "mom" scenarios are so similar to one another.
>>>Let me imagine your thinking while stepping into your size eight shoes today as the new school year rapidly approaches.
Your mind can’t stop thinking! You’re perusing Pinterest for ideas. You are following your favorite homeschool blogger. Dang. She is already planned out for the entire year (insert profanity of choice). You have questions for your co-op group. You are asking other homeschool veterans their opinions.
Perhaps, you are even farther along. Maybe…
But, what about WRITING? That can be a challenge, right? The questions begin to multiply like some bizarre common core math problem.
I get it! You MUST know these things but how?!
Well, I can tell you, getting into the WRITE state-of-mind is priceless. And, that comes from knowing - 100% - that your child is getting the best, most complete, challenging yet fun academic exposure and instruction!
You need that. Your child needs that, too.
YES! I need this. (click here)
Imagine this - if you dare. At the end of any semester, or even worse, an entire school year, you face the realization that you never raised the writing-bar for your child. The writing you expected was minimal and unstructured. The feedback you gave your child consisted of “nice job, good work.” Let me tell you, it would feel terrible to think you lost any of your child’s academic potential in any month, let alone an entire semester or year. And, yet, we all worry about that. Do you think you are alone in your feelings? You are not.
Back in 2005, after a dozen years in the classroom, I began supporting parents who wanted to homeschool their children. They did not want to go into home-education blindly, and the resources and support my charter school provided gave them all the tools and confidence they needed.
Yet, they struggled with knowing how to “grade” their child’s writing. Believe me, assessing your own child's writing ability is such a personal challenge! #truth
I knew then that I wanted to help solve this problem. At the time, I heard about some online teaching platforms, and our school was happy to try them out. My very first online writing class ended up with a waiting list! Yes, the demand was there. Parents loved knowing they could learn alongside their child while being supported and encouraged by an experienced, credentialed teacher (and homeschool mom).
Sure, I provided valuable materials and lessons, but the personable coaching and teaching made both students and parents feel successful. They loved the community that online education fostered.
Every month, we tackled one new writing style.
Each week, they were assigned writing, reading, and research tasks to complete.
And, by the end of the month, a quality piece of writing stretched out before our eyes.
It sounds simple, right? Well, it is. Don’t be fooled though. That does not mean it is easy. It takes work like anything else.
The best part of what I do, for me, is witnessing the effectiveness of my writing classes. Students who once hated writing LOVE writing. Okay, that is a complete and utter lie. Very few have gone from one spectrum to the other. I am not a miracle worker, nor do I claim to be one.
What they have said is, “Writing isn’t as bad as I used to think it was.”
And, HEY! The ones who DO like (or even love) writing from the start soar to whole new heights.
Parents thank me on a regular basis for the guidance and enthusiasm I offer them and their children. Truly, truly, truly, it is MY pleasure. Teaching moms and students to embrace writing IS my passion. There is so much to learn and share!
Are you ready to get into the WRITE state-of-mind? Would you and your child thrive with my support and encouragement for the 2018-19 school year? Would you like ME to write out all of your monthly writing lesson plans and lead classes for you?
Think about it. What could you do with that extra time NOT having to teach writing? And, if your child can work independently, well, I just saved you even MORE time. My program is step-by-step, and students as young as fourth grade have completed it independently.
We should be friends, right?!
My first month of classes will begin September 4th, and I need to get everyone signed up and registered in August. You have until August 29, 2018, to save your spot. Head on over to my website to see more details on the classes I will be offering. I am BEYOND excited for this next year, and I can’t wait to work with you and your child. Let’s do this.
I can save you a spot for now; one for your friend, too! More details will be coming soon.
>>>SAVE MY SPOT!
Want to know how to plan simple and successful writing lessons?
There are THREE mindsets I want you to consider as you plan each month's writing lessons this school year.
>> Mindsets that relieve pressure.
>> Mindsets that build your teaching confidence.
>> Mindsets that produce results.
When you create writing lessons for your child that you are proud of, you will watch your child soar to new heights.
But HOW do you do that?
Do you know how much writing is enough?
Is there something credentialed teachers know that you don't know?
Or, what are the crucial steps your child must complete to write well?
Let's get started so you can begin planning your BEST lessons. And, hey, if you prefer to watch this on video instead, here you go!
Watch it here.
Focus on QUALITY over QUANTITY.
Some parents think their children should construct full paragraphs each and every day to improve writing abilities. In my experience, that is the perfect recipe for burn-out. Most students quickly lose interest and produce poor quality paragraphs even though they may have 15 to 20 paragraphs by the end of the month. Worse yet, they detest writing altogether because it has become a tiresome chore.
A daily journal entry is a wonderful idea, but those are hopefully less structured, more expressive, and free-flowing.
Instead of expecting multiple paragraph essays each week, my recommendation is to fully focus on ONE style of writing per month and provide detailed direct instruction while exploring and practicing all parts of the complete writing process.
By the end of each month, you have developed a quality writing piece for your child's writing portfolio. By the end of a school year, you will have seven or eight quality pieces. Best of all, your child's confidence and attitude toward writing will be at a whole new level!
Know Your Stuff
Have you ever wondered what credentialed teachers know that you don't know as a homeschooling parent? Well, nothing that you can't learn yourself. The best teachers pay attention to changes in standards and grade level expectations. You can do that, too.
Familiarize yourself with the core standards expected of students. There are three basic styles: argumentative, explanatory, narrative. You can read all about them - and the many subcategories - at www.corestandards.org.
Taking the time to explore and learn your child's grade-level educational standards will build a confidence within you that you didn't know you had! How great would that feel?
Follow my FOUR WEEK WRITING PLAN.
Over the years, I have learned the value of organization and predictability. This process not only makes my life simpler but students demonstrate greater success.
Each month, my writing courses and styles change, but the process remains the same.
WEEK 1: Students gather information on their topic/style of writing. They read and take notes on any necessary materials. This is the week that brainstorming and outlining take place.
WEEK 2: It's SLOPPY COPY week! This is the time for students to move from bullet points to full-blown sentences and paragraphs.
WEEK 3: Revision and Editing week arrives! These two steps are critically important. Students learn and grow the most during this week when these strategies are done well.
WEEK 4: Time to polish and publish! At this point, students should have an audience equipped to give valuable and authentic feedback.
There you have it! Now it's your turn.
>>Begin working on your quality (not quantity) writing lessons.
>>Study up and learn first what is expected of your child this year.
>>Finally, break your lessons into four-week segments.
Are you wondering if I could just do this for you instead? Well, the answer is "YES!" - and I'd love to help!
Click on over to writeonwebb.com. You will see the courses I offer and the months they are taught LIVE and ONLINE. Choose one, four, or MORE!
And, if you receive Educational Funds to use toward academic material through your school, let me know. I am a proud vendor for many wonderful Charter Schools. If yours is not on my list yet, we can change that.
Together, we can make this your best year yet, and that is a SUPER mindset with which to start.
The predictable and well-oiled routines of a typical school day fall to the wayside once summer hits. That’s a good thing, right?
We can’t all enjoy a summer trip to the Hamptons or travel abroad for cultural education opportunities. And, looking at everyone’s picture-perfect Instagram posts of Disneyland-Days and Concerts-in-the-Park Nights can create some summertime blues. Been there. Done that.
For many moms, the lack of routine can leave them feeling underwhelmed. In fact, did you know, being out of routine can create a depression in people? So, if you have been wondering what is wrong with you - fear not!
SOLUTION: Getting outdoors, connecting with others, and setting up a lighter, but regular, routine may help.
Well, that and ICE CREAM!
A predictable start to a typical summer in my home in 2003, 2010, and 2015.
Eleven Year Old Boy: "I hate reading."
Frustrated Mother: "That's too bad. It is summertime, and you WILL read a book for fun!"
Maybe you can relate.
From a very young age, all of my boys loved having stories read to them; however, independent reading - purely for enjoyment - never blossomed in my home. And, THAT drove me crazy. Books of all kinds bring me immeasurable joy. I still don't get it.
If this sounds like your family, I feel your pain. And, better yet, I have a solution. For us, since I could never instill the individualistic love of literature, our best-enjoyed novels were ones we shared and read as a family. For us, this was much like a Book Club. And, there are many reasons Book Clubs are successful.
"Unexpected kindness is the most powerful, least costly, and underrated agent of human change." ~Bob Kerrey
According to Webster's Dictionary, kindness is a noun: a person, place, or thing. However, Moms, I think we would all agree it is most powerful when it becomes a common, household VERB! So, how can we increase empathy and compassion in our children? A few ideas come to mind.
Author: Melissa Webb
CA Credentialed Teacher