Parents often call our counselors and tell them that their boys don’t like to write. What many do not realize, unless they have several sons, is that most boys don’t like to write. Young boys don’t like to write because their fingers are not adept at writing small letters on a piece of paper, and they usually take a little longer than girls to develop a vocabulary and even develop speaking skills. Parents need to be patient with their sons whose brains are working fine, but writing skills come a little slower than parents want them.
Start your sons and daughters as early as First Grade writing words—phonics and spelling words especially. As your child progresses in First Grade, he could write phrases, and by the end of First Grade, he may be able to write a full sentence, using words he has learned in his subjects.
Encourage your young son to write sentences he himself has made up. If he needs a “start,” give him a simple sentence and ask him to write a logical follow-up sentence. You could write a sentence about an animal, such as “Look at the little deer crossing the road.” Ask your son to write a follow-up sentence of his own. Your child might write “It is brown.” or “It is little with white dots.” or “He ran away fast.”
In Second and Third Grades, help your son, or daughter, to write a three or four sentence paragraph. You can write the first sentence, and your child can write the following sentences. Give your child praise for writing the sentences, especially for expressing his own ideas.
If your child can write two or three sentences, teach him about a Final Sentence. Teach him that the Final Sentence must “wrap up” or “finish” the paragraph. Show your child some simple paragraphs in a reader or other book. Help your child to recognize final sentences, either a summary sentence or a personal comment. In a paragraph about a deer, the final personal comment sentence might be, “I hope that cute little deer comes back to visit us.”
This is the hardest part of teaching your child to write: You need to do it! You need to insist, to push or to pull, to reward, to do whatever it takes so that your son or daughter writes every day, at least a paragraph. The later your son or daughter starts writing paragraphs, the harder it will be to write anything. If children, especially boys, don’t start writing when they are very young, attitudes begin to develop, such as “I am afraid to write!”; or “I can’t write!”; or “Writing makes me sick (or miserable)”; or “As long as I resist, Mom will not make me write!”
The first three or four years, from Kindergarten through Grade Three, are critical to develop the proper attitude toward writing as well as to develop a confidence in the ability to write. When students come to us in high school and have never written a book report or much else, they think that writing is like a foreign language. They don’t even want to try to write a paragraph. If we neglect teaching our young boys and girls to write, there can be serious difficulties in the years to come.