Has your middle schooler procrastinated on a writing assignment? For most families with teens or tweens, that would not be unusual! It might be time to consider some new ways to ignite your middle schooler’s interest in putting pen to paper or fingers to the keyboard. Since written expression is a skill on which students will be evaluated all through high school, college, and beyond, it will serve them well to ramp up their writing game. We’ve assembled some tips to help even the most reluctant writer make progress, and perhaps learn that they have an aptitude for written communication!
Start at Zero Draft
What’s that? Zero? Yes, for students who have anxiety about writing, just getting started may be the biggest hurdle to overcome. Take the pressure off and encourage your middle schooler to begin with a list of ideas, words, concepts, or phrases that they might incorporate in the next step, their first draft. With that kind of freedom, they might surprise you with their creativity!
Draw a “Mind Map”
Is your middle schooler a visual artist? For creative souls who like to doodle, draw, or sculpt, creating a “map” of the direction they plan to take in their writing project could help them make the connections they need for a cohesive project. Encourage them to sketch characters, places, or events, and then establish relationships between them.
Interview the Writer
This might be fun for both you and your student! Use your phone to record an interview with your middle schooler in which you ask about the assignment and have them explain what they know about the subject or how they plan to research it. Sometimes just hearing themselves talk about the topic can help a student identify areas that need further attention.
Boost that Vocabulary
A rich vocabulary will make writing more enjoyable for any student. Consider a family game night that focuses on boosting word power. Scrabble, Upwords, Bananagrams, and Jenga are all common games that strengthen vocabulary. Your kids may even delight in using new words that you don’t know!
Read All About It
It’s fundamental: the more your student reads, the more likely they are to write well. Find the genre your child enjoys most and encourage them to keep at it! Talk about what they’re reading and why they enjoy it. And P.S.: kids who see their parents read a lot will be more inclined to follow the same pattern.
Let Them Act Up!
Has your student been assigned to write a short story? Encourage them to first visualize it as a theatrical director or movie producer might. Allowing a student with a dramatic bent to think through a writing assignment this way could be a game changer. Be prepared that this could turn into a family production or a video with costumes!
Is Keyboarding an Issue?
There’s a website for that! If your middle schooler struggles with typing beyond just the “hunt and peck” method, there are great online options for improving that skill. The Typing Club is free, easy, and can make keyboarding fun. Many of today’s “digital natives” spend more time communicating with two thumbs on their phones — definitely not the same as a computer keyboard.
Thinking Outside the Box
If creative thinking is a struggle, consider using time in the car for a Mad Libs-type family game. Inventing wild stories based on a few simple prompts could be fun for the entire family, and might help spur the flow of creative thinking. Using simple “what if” prompts for conversation can be effective, too.
Take a Break
Kids who have serious anxiety about writing may benefit from approaching a large project over smaller chunks of time. Stretch breaks, music breaks, and perhaps even a brief social media break might be a welcome incentive that removes some pressure and makes the experience more enjoyable.
Turn Lemons into Lemonade
Does your middle schooler have a propensity for arguing? Let’s turn that potentially annoying trait on its head: perhaps persuasive communication is their strong suit! There’s an art to sharing an opinion, providing credible reasons for a new viewpoint, and urging a reader to embrace that opinion. Isn’t that the basis of speechwriting?
Learn More About How NCA Can Help
The skilled and caring educators at Northside Christian Academy are committed to helping middle school students reach their full potential and prepare for a productive and successful future. Are you considering a Christian middle school in Mecklenburg County, NC?