Doing something that is hard is like eating something you don’t like—you put on a painful face and move through the experience s_l_o_w_l_y. AND the last thing you are planning is when to do it again!
This is how many children feel about reading and writing. The process of learning the mechanics of reading and writing is hard at first so the amazing world that reading and writing provides is shut off and the natural curiosity and colorful imagination of childhood is squeezed out of the picture. I have found the best way to get children to overcome the “pain” of learning these topics is to take the focus off the mechanics at home. Yikes! Did I actually say that out loud? Yes! And it really works!
Children are bundles of energy both physically and intellectually. Reading and writing demand concentration and having to sit quietly for extended periods of time so if you can integrate imagination and creativity into the effort, your child will enjoy a more fulfilling experience creating a positive association with reading and writing vs. a negative association implying hard work and restraint. Don’t get me wrong, hard work and restraint must be taught but leave those lessons to other times and activities where that goal is more the center stage.
I found you can unlock a child’s love for writing by helping them write their own story book. Collect a few pieces of blank white paper fold them in half and staple or sew them down the fold to create a book. Then sit with your child and help them brainstorm about a story or adventure. You will be surprised by their creativity and excitement. Have them write their story without critical examination of the mechanics and then encourage them to draw their own illustrations. When it is no longer fun, put the book away for the day and then bring it out the next day for another “creative writing” session. Books are never created in one day even by the best selling authors! So help your child experience the creative process over a period of time.
When reading other author’s books point out the use of adjectives and have your child close their eyes and draw the picture being described in their mind. Then when they sit down to do their own writing, help them find adjectives to describe what they see in their mind for their own readers. It is this sharing of imagery from author to reader that brings books to life in a way that television just cannot do because it becomes personal. Not all children find this magic in reading and writing on their own partly due to the stress of having to perform for a grade.
Helping your child become an author vs. a doer of homework gives them a vision and goal that is beyond the mechanics. Via E, seeks to help girls find the author in themselves by asking them to send in their own stories. Each Via E book is written from the perspective of a girl their own age. Alex, invites each girl to write to her with the chance that they may be the next Via E contributing author—and why not? Every girl should be able to live her ambition and explore all the skills she has yet to discover.