A Writing Process For Children

Learn about the reasons children have difficulty learning how to write and how to instill a writing process for them.

How many times were you given a writing assignment in your twelve years of mandatory schooling? Would you estimate you wrote a theme, an essay, or even a research paper a total of ten times?

If you are certain you had to complete more than a total of ten writing assignments during your years of formal education, you are a minority. However, it seems (based on my informal poll) individuals who went to school prior to the baby boomers actually were given more writing assignments, which were carefully graded by their teachers and returned for necessary revision, unlike those who attended school from 1960 to the present.

Those falling into the latter category were seldom faced with the task of writing themes, essay and research papers. Why? Teachers often choose NOT to assign writing, simply because they choose NOT to face grading hundreds of papers that have a large number of spelling errors, run-on and fragmented sentences, and content errors. Granted, it is a huge undertaking. However, if it is not assigned, how can we expect anyone who graduates from high school to be able to write complete sentences and communicate coherently in writing?

Effective and logical writing will never be learned without practice---LOTS of practice. Unfortunately, if it is not a definite and frequently given assignment, few students will ever learn the proper techniques of writing even simple sentences, much less a theme or research paper.

The best way to insure that students become adept at writing is for teachers to insist everyone keep a daily journal where writing is practiced a minimum of ten minutes daily. This should be ten minutes of uninterrupted writing---NOT a paragraph written where the remaining minutes are devoted to staring off into space or other "tasks".

Insistence must be given to ten CONTINUOUS minutes of writing, daily. Although credit should be given for this daily assignment, a minimum of two, additional, formal writing assignments should be a part of each week and these papers must be graded thoroughly. Those who have several mistakes in their essays or papers, should have to revise their papers UNTIL there are VERY minimal or no mistakes and the paper is effective in conveying the original idea, complete with a title, topic sentences, and paragraphs that each convey one idea. No credit should be provided until the student has turned in this final, perfected copy.

It is important to note, however, that the teacher should have a myriad of ideas which allow students to write on topics of personal interest, as often as possible and whenever possible. Educators should always strive to inspire students to enjoy writing and instill a desire to progress and become effective in the thoughts they convey. However, an understanding that good writing is a practiced skill will keep students' frustration levels lower and allow necessary motivation.

When you attended school, did you spend ENDLESS hours on nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, etc.? When you were assigned an essay or a theme to write, did you proofread it by analyzing each word as a noun, pronoun, etc. and its descriptors (adjectives, adverbs, etc) in relationship to each noun or pronoun?

Most likely, you did not. Yet, for some reason, educators continue to teach the parts of speech in isolation -- unrelated to the written word. Children see no relationship, typically, between the parts of speech and a story they write, for example.

Actually, writing is a much more natural process than learning the parts of speech. It should be a daily exercise, for enjoyment, practiced from the first time a child can write a sentence. Topics for writing should ALWAYS be of interest to the child/student, meaning the instructor should always be extremely flexible in accepting subjects for writing.

The parts of speech should be taught ONLY in relationship to usage. In other words, when the parts of speech are FIRST introduced (in elementary school), the definitions of each should be briefly gone over. Students should be asked to provide a sentence. The teacher then writes the sentence the student provided on the board and points out the appropriate parts of speech in the sentence. The teacher could then ask another student for a sentence and continue with this process until the general concept is understood.

At that point, writing should begin and the only discussion of parts of speech should be directly related to the written words and sentences of the students. Emphasis should be placed on WRITING, NOT the mechanical concept of parts of speech. Diagramming sentences should NEVER be a part of any curriculum and should be OUTLAWED. I have YET to see a student benefit from learning the complicated task of diagramming a sentence correctly.

Teachers of language arts and/or English who insist on emphasizing parts of speech and sentence diagramming most likely missed their call. They should have remained in the objective world of mathematics, perhaps. In the REAL world of writing and literature, there is truly NO place for rigidity and mechanics, particularly when they fail to benefit the students.

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