On boys and writing…

Boys.  Writing.  Hmmm…

I will have to say that for all three of our boys, we have had a love hate relationship with writing.  They simply don’t enjoy it.  It’s tedious.  It seems hard.  Ideas are slow to come.   It’s a drag.   For a while.

I don’t think that this is uncommon.  I have spoken to several moms of boys and they have expressed similar sentiments. Their boys don’t enjoy writing.   I recently learned that this is sometimes a developmental hurdle.  Boys’ brains don’t myelinate at the same rate as girls’, often two years later (depending on the area), so tasks that girls master at a set age may take longer for boys!  Boys take longer to develop the motor skills for fine-tuned tasks such as writing, and so when they seem to be bungling along with writing, it may be because it is literally difficult for them!  Enough about that!  Bottom line–boys often don’t like writing and it may be hard for them!

This is VERY TRUE in our household!  Our older boy, who is approaching twelve, is finally getting to where writing is not a tedious task that saps him of all of his energy!  It used to do that, and not too long ago!  Our ten-year old still struggles with the mechanics of writing.  And I believe that, like our firstborn, it will get easier, but we have to work with nature.

To help inspire our boys with a desire to write at all, I’ve had to be creative and find something they would be interested to write about!  Letters to Grandpa, uncles and aunts, Grandma, friends–those provide interesting topics and usually help to get the creative juices flowing. Usually.  😕

But I’ve got one who just has a hard time thinking of anything to write about.  He does love to chatter, but when I would ask him to write a letter, or a creative writing assignment, he would just freeze, or sit and apparently daydream, for LONG periods of time!   Sometimes, after thirty minutes, only two words would be written down!   This greatly frustrated me, and many times I would command, in exasperation, “Just write something!”  Which, of course, didn’t really inspire much writing at all, just more pressure. 😕

One day, exactly a month ago, I happened to be talking with a lady from the umbrella school that we are registered under. Somehow the topic of reluctant writers and daydreaming boys came up.  She offered me an idea that sounded promising.  I have implemented it, and I already see a relaxing of the tension that prevents creative thought and paralyzes the writing process!  In other words, so far, so good!

Here’s the simple idea.  She called it a game.  We just call it the new creative writing time, and, now, that is turning into a positive time!

•Everybody gets a pencil and blank paper

•Explain rules:  no erasing, no crossing out, no worrying about spelling, punctuation, or grammar

•Timer gets set for ten minutes

•Announce a topic that the children know very well, like Noah’s ark, or Grandma, or whatever they are very familiar with.

•Say, “Go!”

•They must write whatever pops into their heads, no matter how ludicrous it seems!  They may be thinking, “I wonder why Mom is making me write about ______.” Well, then that’s what they should write down.  Just write, write, write the whole time, and when the timer goes off, stop!

•Share the writing, then toss it in the trash!

•After this process becomes very easy, then start taking the papers they wrote and begin the editing process, using them as a rough draft.

The first day, all the boys really got into this!  It was low-pressure, and I was pleased to see more than two words in a certain someone’s  paper.   After we read them and I told them then to throw them into the trash, they looked at me in horror!  No way!  I’m telling you, writing around here is a challenging thing, and there was no way they were going to throw hard work into the trash!  So, I let them file them.  Fine with me.

We’ve done this a couple of times a week, and I’m already seeing improvement!  I think my reluctant writer wants to have everything just right before he begins, and this is showing him that it’s ok to just brainstorm.  I’ve also seem that he does better if I give him a little advance warning about the topic instead of springing it upon him.   He is like me in that respect–needs to mull things over before the thoughts start to flow.   Yesterday and today, I chose a boy and secretly told them to choose the topic for the day.  They really liked that!  And I got a glimpse into what was in their minds by what topic they chose to write about, so that was neat for me.

I hope that this will encourage some frustrated mom or some frustrated reluctant writer.   If your child believes that he can’t write, this can really help him to see that he can!

And, just as a side note, if the cumbersome burden of getting the actual words on paper is holding your child back, he can dictate to you what he is thinking, and you can write the words down.  This will help him to learn to think clearly, and the words will still be his own.  He will learn by watching you, and he can gradually start to replace your writing with his own!

Give it a try and see what you think!



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