Encouraging the  Elementary School-Aged Reluctant Writer: Making Writing Fundamental in Montessori

We hear a lot about reluctant readers, and the importance of children advancing their reading skills. But for many students in the elementary school, writing is a challenge. Students who are hesitant to create the written word often have a hard time developing well-rounded literacy skills. In Montessori and at Shining Stars, we teach writing before reading beginning at the Primary level. Nonetheless, some students continue to find writing daunting.

Here are some (what I hope) are some useful ideas to make writing a less overwhelming task for the lower and upper elementary-age student:

  1. Write a letter (the old fashioned way). When writing letters, students often get excited about the communication with a loved one, and are willing to look past the anxiety of forming words on paper.
  2. Create a round-robin story. Pass a paper around with the entire family, with each person writing down a sentence to create a wonderfully funny story. Writing as a cooperative activity makes it less daunting.
  3. Ask for help with a grocery list. Give your child a piece of paper and pencil and ask for their help writing down things you need from the store. Sometimes just starting with single words is less overwhelming than creating sentences.
  4. Ask a child to create a book for a younger child. Under the guise of helping a younger friend, creating a simple story with simple words takes some of the pressure off.
  5. Allow them to type. For some children, the novelty of using the keyboard of a computer cures writer's block.
  6. Invest in some fun writing materials. Who says you always have to use a #2 pencil and lined notebook paper? Markers, or sparkly colored pencils and some fun paper might provide some inspiration and creativity. For those so inclined to use technology, invest in a Bamboo Spark (just a thought)!

As you use some of these ideas, it's important to remember a couple of things: First, don't focus on handwriting. Children who feel criticized for poor penmanship may associate that with writing skills. That's what rough drafts are for. Second, be a role model. Many adults don't have much pen-to-paper time anymore, with the use of computers and cell phones. Be intentional about writing, and make sure your children catch you in the act!

As with many things, young students develop different skills at different rates. If your child is hesitant to write, don't panic!. Use some of these ideas and your own creativity to come up with ways for them to practice their writing skills without feeling overwhelmed.

If you are a parent of an elementary school-aged 'reluctant' writer, contact us and let us know if some of these strategies work for your child and your family. We are always interested in sharing best practice and working with other practitioners to create and grow 'new' best practices for 

- R. Rodriguez, Executive Director