Reluctant Writers

Posted by iChild, May 24, 2017 5:39 PM

By Inside Martyn's Thoughts

There seems to have always been an issue between children learning at school and then at home with homework. It can be tricky finding the balance between a regular routine, learning environment and allowing children to just be, let’s face it, children. I have read many articles regarding this topic and as a trained teacher, home educator and a parent I could happily argue the pros and cons to each side.


The above debate is such an important one but I think both sides can be true - young people do live in two worlds, both home and school, and they learn in them too. We, as parents, don’t instantly stop teaching lessons about life and its surroundings the moment they start school.

The way the two connect and communicate can make a massive difference to how they learn to manage and process in both places. As a parent, one of our biggest jobs is to support our children’s education and make sure it’s the best it can be. I hear a lot of parents talking about how to get their child writing at home, especially if they are reluctant to put pen to paper!

Writing activities that have a familiar structure can often create a more rounded context for learning about the writing process. These build students' understanding, and support their creation of original stories. You may find these iChild’s activities helpful: KS1 English, KS2 English, Story Planning and Looking at Poems.  

Do they struggle formulating writing with a purpose?

Writing helps your mind to process things. Everyday activities can create a mass of confusion. I know now, for example, that I write not only with the purpose of creating something with a beginning, middle and end, but also to process what is going on in my mind.

I know a lot of adults struggle with this too. It’s difficult because sometimes you do want to write and let it all out, but it can become very muddled. When I first started blogging it was just there for me to rant and get everything out. Friends and family would joke that “Martyn has done a blog post let’s make a cuppa and sit down first!” I knew that there was a point when I would have to shorten my posts but it was still incredibly difficult. After some research I decided to aim for a particular guide within a maximum word count (850). 

So imagine then that you’re a child. How do we expect them to process and create a formulated writing structure if we struggle?


Teachers tend to support pupils to explore the concepts of beginning, middle and end by reading a variety of stories and charting the events on storyboards. As they retell the stories, students are encouraged to make use of sequencing words (first, so, then, next, after that, finally). You may find iChild's Ending, Storyboards and Story Planner activities helpful.

Does your child shy away from writing stories?

The problem with this is that some children just do not like writing! From this we are potentially allowing an important technique to under-develop.

So what can we do to help? Is there any other way to use storyboards?

Here are a few of my suggestions:

- Photos

I find as a teacher and blogger that photos help massively. Each photo captures a moment in time and makes it easy to create a beginning and end; then anything in-between can be captured as our middle point.

- Drawings

As a teacher, parent and trained art therapist, I know the importance of using drawings as an alternative expression of conveying events. These, like photos, can be placed in order and vocalised. iChild’s My Plan activity helps children write a story using a series of pictures.


- Booklets

Again, like drawings, this is solely based on being artistic or at the very least artistically creative. But you can extend the use to more than just a beginning, middle and end. A perfect example of this is Lego; every box would contain a manual and the first page would list the pieces and the last page would show you what it looked like. Every page in the middle would then build upon the story and progress to the end.

- Captions and bullet points

This is always a good place, especially for me. When writing, create a minimum step of points to follow. Try to keep each point short to provide a more visual aide to processing.

Producing alternatives to writing, like the above, will always be engaging for the child. Not every child or adult will enjoy writing, but it can be a valuable tool when trying to process what’s around us without becoming confused or losing track of where we are. Storyboards, in whatever form, will do this.

The most important thing through all of this is the vocalisation. Children, as well as adults, need to vocalise what they would like to achieve through each stage, creating a clear route. 

Do you have any tips that worked for you? We would love to know!

By Inside Martyn's Thoughts


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