This blog is where we share our homeschooling journey. Our style is eclectic, employing strategies like notebooking, workboxing, and some relaxed unschooling I like to call organic or free-range learning.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

If Your Kid Hates Writing, Make 'Em a Novelist!!

Brianna has discovered her first strong school-type dislike: writing. Writing drives her crazy--the mechanics, forming the letters, copying sentences...all of it. Sit her down with a pencil and she yawns incessantly, kicks the chair, groans/whines/moans, and sometimes bursts into tears.

Back in my series about "Teachable Moments," I cited just this scenario and mentioned waiting until the child was ready to tackle a subject naturally rather than foisting it on them hatred-be-darned. Now that we've signed up for a home-based charter program, however, (which requires samples of progress in state standards and a school-wide essay assignment), this isn't a viable option. Time for Plan B.

In my quest to make writing "fun," I've tried several different games, writing with food (including Skittles Spelling and tracing letters into pink lemonade drink powder), as well as a workbook series titled Draw Write Now. (I considered Handwriting Without Tears, but heard mixed reviews as to just how tear-free the lessons were.) In Draw Write Now, each writing assignment includes a lesson in how to draw a picture based on the subject. I figured this fun art component would soften the blow of having to jot down all those pesky words. Still, she balks. Skittles and Lemonade spelling quickly because Skittles/Lemonade artwork/drawing, as she lost interest in forming letters. I had minor success with a game of "Guess What I'm Writing?" and taking turns with the magic slate, but she gives up on it in short order.

An assignment from Draw Write Now: Farm Animals

So now that I've succeeded in seeing my child come to hate writing enough to be happy never to see another word, what now? Enter my latest crazy scheme--I signed us up for the Young Writer's Program in the National Novel Writing Month (November 1-30), which challenges folks to write an entire novel in thirty days.

You might be thinking, "Have you gone mental? A 7-year-old writing a NOVEL--when they hate to write? You'll drive her over the edge!!" Well, I'm hoping to pull my daughter back from the abyss by bringing the fun connotation back into the word "writing." No longer will the term conjure nightmare images of x's that won't slant and hand cramps. Once again it will whip up pictures of magical stories, tales of wonder where she can be anyone, go anywhere, and do anything. In short, we're going back to formula on theory, rather than practical execution. She will dictate her story, and I will dutifully type it and wait for the sunshine and rainbows to return (we hope).

For those of you who haven't heard of this challenge, I highly recommend it. I've participated five years running, and this will be Bri's first time. Young writers can learn a great deal about Language Arts by participating, and the official site ( offers lesson plans by grade as well as a forum. A fabulous home school lesson plan idea for kid novel writing can be found at Little Blue School's blog. I hope some of you will find the fun in writing this November!

I'll be charting our progress here on the blog, as well as the end impact on her current Anti-Writing campaign. Wish us luck!