When Writing (Language Arts) Doesn’t Come Naturally

Josh The-DadMile Markers

Ben White on Unsplash

We got the grades and they weren’t good. Our son was definitely struggling with language arts, otherwise known as spelling, grammar and written expression. He had lots of clever thoughts. He expressed himself well in person, but when it came to getting it on paper, things did not go well. He struggled with spelling—even with the assistance of spell check. His grammar and punctuation definitely needed work. The red ink on his written assignments was just one more indication this was not his strength. Not surprisingly, he did not like to write and he did as little as possible.

Andrew’s dad empathized with him. He wasn’t particularly fond of writing projects required by his job, either. Hand him a microphone and he was dynamite. Give him a pen and paper and he faltered. Over time, he managed to get better, eventually earning a graduate degree in college, but it wasn’t easy. He wondered how he could encourage his son when he, himself, struggled in this area. Thank goodness his wife and his secretary were always happy to proofread his work and offer suggestions. Eventually he gained sufficient confidence to allow his true personality to come through his words. People even commented on the humorous and attention-getting ways he expressed his opinion. They looked forward to reading what he wrote.

Maybe you are like Andrew’s dad—uncertain of your ability to communicate in writing, or certain it won’t be good. If you feel this way, it’s highly likely at least one of your children struggles in the same way. You empathize with their pain. You know how it feels, but you don’t know how to help. How do you encourage your child when he or she struggles in the same way you once did? Can’t you just leave that task to your child’s mother? In your mind, she’s probably better at it anyway. Here are some ideas to help your child improve and enjoy in this area.

1)  Write notes to your child, even short ones. Hide them in places for your child to find when you are traveling and away from home.

2)  Share clever, funny or well-written things you come across yourself. This could be a sport’s story, a blog, a joke or humorous story. Enjoy the many different ways people express themselves.

3)   Ask your child to find a joke or short story he or she enjoys and then share it with you.

4)   If your child is small, ask them to tell you a story and then write it down as they do. Ask them to illustrate it when they’re done.

5)  Take photos of a fun activity or trip you and your child do together. Ask them to write captions for the photos. These could be collected in a personal blog, posted to Facebook or saved on paper.

6)  Challenge yourself and your child to learn a new “word of the week” and then use that word in as many ways possible to cement it in your memory. Share with each other the ways you have used the new word over the week.

7)  Encourage your child to send letters and/or emails to grandparents, aunts, uncles and other friends or family members. Give them feedback about what they may want to include, or change.

Writing doesn’t come naturally to all, but everyone can improve. The trick is to think of as many ways as possible to use this skill, because when you do, you will improve.

Photo Credit:  Ben White on Unsplash