Saturday, 26 May 2012

Writing for Purpose feature


I wrote this for Granny Net. Read it here on their site.


For children who are reluctant to write at home, giving meaning and purpose to writing can make all the difference. Primary teacher Phoebe Doyle offers some ideas to try…



Some children almost seem to have writing as their default setting; they’re desperate to write stories, adore using different pens and notebooks and, far from seeing it as ‘work’, view it simply as an integral part of their life and what they love to do.



For others though, writing can be a laborious chore. Something that teachers and family seem resolutely determined that they should do, but for no good reason! Writing might be hard for these children, dull and even painful. Yet as adults we know how important it is. It’s a vital skill for functioning in a communication-fueled world. Helping your grandchild to write for real-life tasks can really get this vital message across, as wellas serving to boost motivation.

Here are 10 ideas to try:


  1. Diary Keeping – Encourage your grandchild to keep a diary, they don’t have to write in it every day, just when something exciting has happened if they prefer. Perhaps you’ve got a diary from childhood, if so have a look at it together, explaining that one day they might show their diary to their own grandchildren!
  2. Magnetic Letters / Words – These days you can get all sorts of magnets for the fridge which help with writing. Have competitions to see who can write the silliest sentences or even just made up nonsense words.
  3. Letter Writing – Ask them to write a letter, perhaps to a neighbour or a relative; it doesn’t have to be long – remember the idea is to show the many purposes of writing and definitely not to put them off!
  4. Send an Email – Where as writing can seem like a ‘real drag’, using the computer can seem far cooler! Give them plenty of opportunities to email relations and friends. They won’t be practising their hand-writing, but they will still have to think about composition and spelling.
  5. Shopping Lists – When you’re nipping to the shops ask them to write a shopping list so that you don’t forget anything! They can then be in charge of ticking the items off.
  6. Fast Facts – Many children who are reluctant writers are put off by fiction but love facts! Using something they’re interested in (e.g. wild animals, trains, football) use the internet and books to find out facts about that subject. They can record these facts on a bullet-pointed list.
  7. Non-Fiction Publishing – They might also like to write their own non-fiction book on an area of interest, using what they know about non-fiction texts to help (i.e. contents page etc.) Alternatively they could do a power point document on the computer with help.
  8. Memos – Stock up on post-it notes of all shapes and colours. Encourage them to write memos, for remembering reading books for school or dinner money, for instance. 
  9. Helping Out – Encourage them to ‘help’ younger siblings, or friend’s children, with writing. Knowing they’re impressing others may just spur them on.
  10. Be a Good Role Model - Remember children learn largely from watching the adults in their lives. Make sure your grandchild sees you writing, for all sorts of purposes, so they know it’s a crucial part of everyday life. 

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