All About Boys: Boys and Writing

Next to reading, writing is probably the next hardest thing to get boys to do these days.  Many school referrals I receive in counseling are related to academic challenges boys are having in school.  Let’s face it, none of us really LIKE to write but at least it was not as painful when we were in school.

The Statistics

  • Four out of five students are not proficient writers
  • Even with spell check and a thesaurus, only 27% of students can write well developed essays with proper language.
  • College students, 26% of college students produce writing that is deficient.
  • Eighteen percent more of female students than male students said they enjoyed writing, and without a drive to practice many boys may be missing out on chances to improve.

What’s Changed?

We could say school has changed but not really.  I remember writing stories when I was in elementary school and writing papers by the time I was in middle school.  What has really changed is even in how we begin to get ready for school. 

Boys are not coloring.  Yes, writing readiness skills like coloring in coloring books or doing mazes to help the mouse find the cheese, have almost vanished in homes today.  Most boyspre-writing-tracing-pack-for-toddlers have never picked up a crayon let alone a coloring book.

Yes, students are expected to have more writing and reading skills going into kindergarten, which means they should be writing before they reach the school building.  Parents who have not enrolled children in preschool or early learning programs, can use home schooling techniques to make sure their child is ready for kindergarten and first grade.

Video games. Yes wait for it…technology hurts writing skills.  The research is just now beginning to trickle in about the impact technology is having on children and learning.  We do see a significant decrease in writing as children are using more handheld devices for learning and entertainment.  Parents I would recommend a balance.  The old fashion pen and paper is actually the recommend way to get children to write.

Writing Daily

The best way to help students is to have them write daily. Yes daily.  You can sneak this in by having them write their chore chart out, having them write a note to let you know where they are going to play outside today, anything…is writing.  Have them write every day. 

My son, who yes also hates to write, writes even on the weekend.  We have gotten into writing comic books and stories.  He is very creative and engaging in his stories.  His feelings for writing has not changed since he was 3, but he is good at writing and continues to show improvement in his ability to write.

Fun Ways To Get Them Writingdiy-chalkboard-wall-i-dig-pinterest

Preschool Age- Early Learningskonahem_folded_paper_alphabet_01

  • Use Markers on poster board paper
  • Use Chalk on chalk paint
  • Let them use blank paper or construction paper and create the alphabet each letter on one sheet; hang up across the room

Elementary Age- Practice Writing

  • Have them tell you the story out loud first, then write
  • Use comic books themed writing to create comic books on ordinary subjects ex. Super Science Adventures
  • Have them write letters to family members and mail them (no emails!)

Middle and High School

  • By this age they are writing research papers and projects, mostly typed.  Let them use Speak to Text software programs like Dragon, where they are still “writing” the story. 
  • Allow them to watch videos on Youtube or Khan Academy on writing papers and writing skills.  Some students really struggle when it comes to writing.
  • Help them to choose books they like whenever that is an option for book reports and projects.  Boys tend to pick adventure, science, gore and war, so let them, as long as they write a good paper that is all that matters.

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Check out this piece about ideas to get boys to write:
http://gettingboystoread.com/content/ideas-get-boys-writing/

Writing Stinks

As many boys, will tell us, writing is not fun.  I agree that writing is not always fun (but I do like to write this blog).  Parents let’s have an attitude of helping them to be successful at it even if we don’t understand why they hate to write.  I would encourage parents to take a step back and not give the old “because you have to learn to write” response.  Really try to understand the challenges from their perspective and begin to create strategies that will help.

Until Next Session,
Dr. Stacy