Summer Writing for Reluctant/Beginning Writers  


               A blank sheet of paper can be daunting, especially to beginning writers.  But more than a lack of ideas or even ability, it is often an aversion to the act that afflicts reluctant or beginning writers. So when faced with a writing assignment, first they will complain that the topic is boring or doesn't make sense, then they'll announce that they don't know what to write about it. After a while, they will scrawl a few hurried sentences, snap their notebooks shut before dashing off to more entertaining pursuits. It's no use asking them to show their work, unless you want to lose your cool or you're in the mood to deal with tears and tantrums.
              There are lots of strategies that work with reluctant writers, but I found this has worked for my son and many students who are going into Grades 2 and 3. The first task is to get them over the hump of the physical act of writing. Ask your child/student to choose any age-appropriate chapter book or give them a good piece of literature you have picked and then copy down 7 or 8 sentences of their choice - word to word, including punctuation, complete with every dot and dash. Then have them check it themselves before you do. If they have copied the selected text exactly as stated in the book or corrected it diligently, reward them as you wish. 
              This will accomplish 2 things. One, it will get a child used to the act of writing. He or she will soon realize that there's no way out of this task. The usual excuses "I don't know what to write," or "I can't think of anything on this topic" will not hold ground. Soon writing up 10-15 lines will not seem a big deal anymore.  Secondly, this seemingly mindless activity will go a long way towards teaching spellings, sentence formation, and punctuation. Also, when the words are checked for accuracy, it teaches them to read and review, an important life-skill.
         Now any child can inveigle out of this task or try to make some kind of a deal. "May I copy 7 or 8 lines of a poem?" is one of them.  The answer is "Every other day." Learning to write a poem is important too, but not more than writing sentences/prose. The other excuse is "This is boring!" Your answer should be "Well then, how about a prompt/poem/essay on......?"