When Your Child Doesn't Know How to Write

Little Lady also has a hard time putting her thoughts into written words. Whenever she is asked to write a thank you note or a paragraph it is as though her mind, eyes, and hands do not work together smoothly. She can tell me everything she wants to say, but when it comes to actually writing it out, it becomes quite overwhelming to her.

This hit home recently when I sat and observed my girl writing with a young friend (who is also in third grade). They were writing stories together, and her friend quickly filled the page with words. In that same amount of time, my daughter wrote three sentences, and ended up drawing a picture. I could sense her frustration and asked about her story. The words poured out of her (and a good story it would have been!), but the process of writing completely stifled her ability to share it.

A reading teacher recommended that I approach creative writing in two stages, instead of just one like most of us do.

See, I can think and write simultaneously. I do not have to think about how the letters are constructed, which direction they should face, which side of the paper I should start the next line on, what size the letters should be... 

Things that I take for granted become a huge barrier for many children when they are trying to write. Often, they will lose their ideas or train of thought, become frustrated with the process and just quit. 

It can be very helpful to some students to communicate their ideas FIRST, and then work through the process of writing them. 

This can be done through the use of graphic organizers, dictation, and voice to text apps. You could encourage your child to develop story boards for their ideas, drawing pictures for each scene that they will be able to refer back to later. Using outlines, key words, and bullet points can also be helpful ways for your student to work out the thought side of writing before they put pen (or pencil) to paper. 

Typing can be an excellent tool for your struggling writer because it can help them combine the creativity of writing without the stress of writing mechanics. I would highly recommend that you teach your child to type fluently at an early age. I am a huge proponent of handwriting instruction and feel that it should have a key place in the student's learning. However, for some children, they need the freedom to communicate their thoughts and ideas without the hindrance of thinking about how to write. Typing provides this freedom. (Besides, in this technical world we live in, it will not be a skill that is wasted!) (I really like this idea to teach hand placement to beginning typists.)

We each use tools that help us in our daily life—glasses, alarm clocks, mnemonics, hearing aids, calendar reminders, bookmarks…. My desire is to help my daughter fill her “life toolbox” with as many tools as possible so she can become the learner and communicator that God has created her to be!


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