Help with writing - Mothering Forums
Learning at Home and Beyond > Help with writing
scoobymummy's Avatar scoobymummy 08:37 AM 03-05-2013

I'm really struggling trying to get my 9 year old daughter to do any writing. She is very practical and fact based - loves workbooks with fill in the blanks, loves work where she follows exact instructions. Any writing activity that I do with her causes her huge stress - she gets upset and digs in her heels - she really feels that she can't do it, that she has no ideas. At this point I'm just doing paragraphs - starting with a writing prompt and asking her a list of questions to answer and taking those answers and forming them into a paragraph. I try to do factual and not too imaginative, as that stresses her more. When I do finally get her to reluctantly follow through, her writing is fine. I'm trying to really gently push herself a little.


Any suggestions? She seems to respond a little better to things that I'm not creating myself (she loves the expert lol - she refused to accept any advice from me about her piano lessons until I started conducting a choir and saw that other people respected my expertice and then suddenly she decided I knew what I was doing :) ). I've looked at lots of writing programs, but they seem so involved and lengthy and I've looked at workbooks that just don't cut it.

Red Pajama's Avatar Red Pajama 08:55 AM 03-05-2013

My advice: start with a graphic organizer, so she isn't sitting there wondering what comes next.   Start with a topic in a circle, with lines (3-5) coming out from the circle where the detail points will go.  as a random example:




                                                                    are insects



                                                                                                                             queen lays eggs




             polinate flowers                                                Bees                                              live in a hive



            communicate with dance




                                                                                      make honey





Now, the details are there to create the paragraph. THe same process works when you are ready to expand to the 3 or 5 paragraph essay when she's older.  creating the graphic organizer can be one day's work, with making it into the paragraph the next day's work, so it isn't so much all at once.


From my time as a teacher, I found that the kids were more willing to write about "your favorite such and such" but their writing was much better and better organized when working with a non-fiction topic.

scoobymummy's Avatar scoobymummy 09:14 AM 03-05-2013

Should have mentioned - we do that. It's the coming up with ideas to support the topic that she struggles with.

Jody59's Avatar Jody59 03:05 PM 03-05-2013

Try explaining that you just want (OK), then she will get help and then make it better. Just OK writing, at first.

Did she do much copy work before she began to write . You can also get her to tell you or record herself verbally describing something, then convert that to writing. How about writing a letter to grandparent.

Hope it gets better.

Jody  [Admin Note: Link removed as promotional posting of commerical sites is not permitted.]

Emaye's Avatar Emaye 01:04 AM 03-06-2013

How much does she read for enjoyment?  I ask because reading helps with writing.  If she is reading a lot but is not yet interested in structured writing much maybe she can begin informal journaling to loosen up her brain.  She may enjoy writing about herself and her world.  I think it is better to start with a subject matter she has a deep knowledge about, whatever that may be.  

pek64's Avatar pek64 01:17 AM 03-06-2013
It sounds to me like she's uncomfortable with subjective work. I hated it, too. If there is a definite right answer, then it's totally in my control to get it right. If, however, it's subjective, then I can write something I feel is correct and good, and there can be criticism and marks off because the grader disagreed. It's a matter of opinion.

Personally, I had a teacher who was out to prove all children from the same familu couldn't all be good and smart, so she looked for ways to criticize me (I am the youngest) and lower my grades. I learned to hate subjective grading from her. Maybe something similar happened to make her dislike subjective work, or maybe she just prefers concrete work. Is it really necessaru that she do it now? Perhaps in a year or two she'll be more open to the idea.
scoobymummy's Avatar scoobymummy 06:07 AM 03-06-2013
I think you're right pek64. Dd has always been more comfortable with the concrete ... I don't think anything in particular happened, just the way she is. She is very black and white, doesn't really get metaphors and riddles etc. i thnk I was just having a 'bad homeschooling mom noy doing enough' moment. I think I'll just continue with guided paragraph writing, and stop stressing that she's not producing it from her own imagination.
pek64's Avatar pek64 06:18 AM 03-06-2013
Good idea. If it makes you feel better, I started becoming more comfortable with creative and subjective works when I was in my teens. There's hope for your daughter to change. It's just going to be if and when she's ready.

Most homeschooling moms get the self doubt moments. My son's a teen, and I still have them. Oh, well. Just part of the territory, I guess.
SweetSilver's Avatar SweetSilver 09:10 AM 03-06-2013



I'm not sure what is available for 9yo, but I remember newspapers would take on high school journalists as apprentices of sorts.  It was a high honor for students.  I am behind several decades-- I have no idea what is available to kids anymore!


Science writing, like for field guides and such.


Facts, facts, facts.  But this still assumes that there is already some interest in writing.  

moominmamma's Avatar moominmamma 09:32 AM 03-06-2013
If you want to continue to nudge her gently in the direction of creative, open-ended writing, it can be helpful to limit the possibilities. Some kids are easily overwhelmed by having too many choices, and they just can't get started because of it. Poetry can be a good thing to start with, particularly the smallest and simplest of formats, things like acrostic poems and haiku. Found text poems can be fun: take a magazine article and use a sharpie to cross out all the words except the few that you want in your poem. Your poem is simply everything that is not blacked out. And my kids have loved the quirky ephemeral nature of magnetic poetry, those little kits of words that you can choose from and rearrange on your fridge to make sentences and poems. My 10yo enjoys drawing five magnetic poetry word at random and then writing a tiny poem that includes all those words. Limits and constraints like these are paradoxically very freeing for kids who are overwhelmed by the open-endedness of creative writing.

Tassy's Avatar Tassy 10:23 AM 03-06-2013

I highly recommend Writing with Ease for reluctant writers.  My DS struggled BIG time for years and I tried many methods (and love to write myself), and found it to be structured in an accessable way and 3 years later we are almost finished with the program and it WORKS!  Plus it is affordable... Another positive is that the writer just published the next series so that we can continue it through middle school.  Good luck!

pek64's Avatar pek64 11:38 AM 03-06-2013
Write *with* her!

Start writing something, and ask her to help you finish it. Be silly! Laugh a lot! Have fun!

Think Bedtime Stories.

Or just wait for her to be more interested in creative writing.
scoobymummy's Avatar scoobymummy 11:14 AM 03-07-2013

Thanks everyone for the helpful posts. I think we'll just work away at it slowly, very prescribed writing in areas that interest her and slowly build up her confidence. I just needed to remind myself to slow down and let her do it in her own time.

SundayCrepes's Avatar SundayCrepes 12:05 AM 03-12-2013

I just bought this software that may meet your needs:


There are a couple versions of this, the one with the largest number of reviews is a version that worked on Windows 3.1 so it probably won't work on your computer. However, it lets you know what people think of the program. You can read those reviews at:


This review tells you how to make it work with Windows 7 if you have problems:

Tags: Homeschooling