“I can’t do this! I wrote all I can!” Have you ever heard that in your house? I heard it this morning. My 11-year-old was supposed to write an outline to turn in tomorrow at speech club. He wrote one sentence, yelled those words, and shut the laptop cover. He was done. Whether your children are learning to write essays, reports or outlines, they will one day experience frustration in writing.
To be honest, we all feel that way sometimes. I find writing therapeutic. Yet there are many days when I just can’t bring myself to do it. There are other days when I sit down and stare at the screen unsure of what to say or how to say it. If published authors feel this way sometimes (and I know I’m far from alone here), why should it surprise us that our children feel that way, too?
As an experienced writer, I have the benefit of a clear understanding of why I’m writing. Our children don’t always have that same benefit. That’s why it’s so important that we give adolescents and teens reasons why they learn what they do. Here are our top 5 reasons for learning to write with high quality.
Writing is a way to express what interests you most. For our speech club example, Harley was asked to prepare an outline of a persuasive argument. He picked a topic close to his heart, adopting homeless pets. This makes his writing personal. His frustration was about the writing, not the topic. As a teacher, I simply keyed in on his interest in the topic as I asked him questions. This revealed plenty of information he already knew that could be included in his outline. Before long, he used what interested him most to succeed in his writing assignment.
Writing is a way to communicate with others when you aren’t with them. My older son, Patrick, is hooked on all things electronic. He recognizes that electronic communication is here to stay. To encourage kids like Patrick, email or text them. If you don’t understand something they wrote (or if you pretend not to), just ask for more information. Before long, most kids will start writing a bit more to you and others.
High-quality writing makes you look good. I’ve taught college students for about 20 years. Sadly, I often receive papers with horrendous writing errors. Sometimes I point these out to my boys. They’re shocked that college students write like that! I stress to them that poor writing gives the impression that these students were careless or rushed and were not doing their best work. Now, I should point out that all of the college students I teach are themselves preparing to become teachers. So, I often ask my sons if they would like that person as their teacher. They quickly came to realize that when they recognize poor writing, it makes them feel negatively about someone. But when they see someone’s high-quality writing, it gives them a positive sense about the person.
High-quality writing impresses employers. My older son is hoping to get his first job soon. As this historic event approaches, I have found myself stressing to him how much of an impact his writing skills will have on potential employers. When writing cover letters, job applications, or answering written questions a potential employer may ask, high-quality writing demonstrates competence and skill. And that’s just what employers are looking for.
Writing can help you physically and emotionally. Diaries have long been the place to go to share deep secrets, write about life’s events, and praise or lament one’s choices. In today’s tech-filled society, diaries have been replaced with electronic journals and blogs. Yet the potentially therapeutic effects of journaling remain unchanged. For children who enjoy writing, guiding them to write or draw privately to get out various thoughts, ideas, and feelings helps them learn to self-reflect and process life’s events.
The most important thing you can do to help your child to write with high-quality is to encourage them to write anything!The best writers in the world have one thing in common, they write every day. They may not keep much of what they write, but they write every day. Encourage your children to do the same and they’re quality will naturally improve!