Does your child HATE to do his or her writing homework? Do you have students who come in each week with absolutely NO WRITING HOMEWORK done at all? I recently received an email from a concerned parent that was asking for advice on how to help encourage her child, rather than force him. And each year, I hear from a parent or two that getting the writing homework done is a BATTLE. Here are some tips on how to help children get it done efficiently and turn that battleground into a playground (or at least a peaceful kitchen table!)
Often, when parents come to me saying that their child will absolutely NOT do his or her writing homework, I am a bit mystified as to the reasons why. Usually, I see the child finishing almost identical assignments in class without an issue. But kids usually dislike doing things that they find difficult, and that’s usually why they resist. So what is the difference? What’s missing?
Get the Same Writing Tools at Home that Your Child Has at School
One thing that usually helps is to have all of the tools he needs to get it done right there at home, such as a word wall or word list, and a copy of the alphabet with a picture of something that begins with each beginning sound above each letter, and a phonics sound chart. Then you’ll have to teach him how to use those things in order to help him write. Make it easier for him by showing him how and giving him the tools to do it, and you’ll probably get less resistance.
In my class, I teach my kids to use a word wall to help them write. So when they go home, if there is no word wall to use, I can imagine that some of them might have trouble! Providing some type of word wall may really help the child do writing assignments at home. Parents, you may need to ask your child’s teacher if your child is used to using a word wall or some other writing tools to figure out how to make assignments easier at home for your child.
In my class, kids consistently used three tools to help them write: The alphabet chart on the wall, the word wall, and the Sounds Fun Phonics poster. (See more info below about each of these things.) Having these tools at home should help quite a bit, but you’ll need to encourage your child to use them. You may even need to MODEL how to use them at home by pretending that you are doing a fake homework assignment and trying to find all of the answers to your five year old questions by using these tools. If your child is expected to write words as they sound, try reading this post for more information.
Also, you may need to provide some kind of reward or motivation for doing the writing assignment, particularly if your child has gotten into the habit of not doing them at home. Habits reign supreme in the land of childhood, and kids rarely forget techniques that have worked well to get them out of doing something that they don’t want to do. So if whining or complaining has gotten them excused from doing writing assignments in the past, you can probably expect a bit of a battle as you re-establish your routines. So make sure that you have some good rewards or incentives in place to sweeten up the pot a little bit. You might be able to make it a little bit more fun with some special markers, crayons, or letting your child type the assignment rather than write it now and then.
A Word Wall is simply a bank of words that children can use for writing. Think of it as a mini dictionary on the wall! But a set of flashcards laid out on the kitchen table can also serve as a word wall, as long as they are laid out in alphabetical order. If you would rather do this an easier way, click here for a free, downloadable, portable word wall from a blog post of mine. If there are words missing that you need, just pencil them in. Your child could also get a notebook and start a little mini-dictionary of his or her own! Just write all of the A words on page one, the B words on page two, etc. Or, you can get a really cute one already made up right here from Fluttering Through First! It’s adorable!
It’s $5 and you would have to have it mailed to you, but you can also purchase it as part of the download of our Sounds Fun Phonics flash cards. It would be smaller than the poster when you print it, of course- 8.5″ x 11″. That set is $15, but you wouldn’t have to have it mailed anywhere.
The movements help kids remember the sounds so that they can write them, and the songs on the Sounds Fun DVD also help them memorize the letters that go with each sound so that they don’t have to rely on the chart forever.
The Sounds Fun Phonics program has helped ALL of my students immensely, from Kindergarten to Second grade learn to read, write, and spell. If you haven’t checked it out yet, I highly recommend that you give it a try!
So to recap, make sure:
1. Have the same writing tools at home as your child has at school, such as a word wall, phonics sound chart, and alphabet chart.
2. Motivate your child by providing incentives to complete the assignment.
3. Be consistent in your expectation that the assignment will be completed every time. Don’t let your child dissuade you with whining or complaining about it!
I hope this blog post was helpful to you! Let me know if you have any questions that I can answer.