Reluctant Writers



Many years ago, I was teaching a class about writing an adventure story. The whole class was engaged and one of my students was particularly enthusiastic about the idea and contributed many excellent suggestions about characters development and plot twists.

At the end of the introduction to the lesson, the next task was to write the opening of their adventure story. My student looked especially reluctant to do so and actually looked quite unhappy. I asked him why, he looked so unenthusiastic and he said "I have done so much work and I told you all my ideas, and we wrote great sentences on the whiteboard but WHY do I have to write it now? I have already done enough!"

This could have been an initial sign that he had Written Expression Disorder, however, in this case, as he was assessed, he was simply frustrated with the process. He was confident writer but like any subject, there are peaks and flows in interest. 

I needed him to write the work to show off his excellent ideas but he got me thinking - he was communicating a frustration to me. He had done so much work and now it was back to square one in his mind and he had gone to so much effort he saw a mammoth task ahead - it was just how he saw it - and by me asking him to now commit his ideas to paper - it was as if none of his ideas counted to him and he didn't see the point. It felt like he was doing the work twice over. Writing is a key skill. It shouldn't be laborious or a chore. But like with any important subject - practice is needed.

Since then I have been fortunate enough to have been on many courses and training which support teachers in helping and approaching children who are reluctant to write (and read).

This lesson is about getting children to write in stages so that it isn't one big foreboding task - pages and pages of writing. This class will focus on improving talk around writing, vocabulary and writing techniques. It may take some times for your child to start writing but we will be taking a step on the right track each lesson.


Sue Palmer has carried out a lot of research into boys and literacy. 

To sum up - children, and Sue mentions boys and reading in particular here, need lots and lots of play outside of the digital world. 

I am a BIG fan of ICT and all it's benefits - but it goes hand and hand with real life experiences. 


* Talk related to the writing task to encourage ideas and vocabulary
* Key sentence work
* Reading and sharing of sentences
* Modelling of teacher and then the option for the student to - ( with peer support) - to show effective sentences
* New Vocabulary
* Short classes twice a week rather than a long class
* Encourage high quality writing rather than quantity writing
* Regular practice to steadily build a love of writing to see progress

Does your child:
* Make excuses and avoid writing?
* Complain about not being able to think of what to write or not knowing where to start?
* Sit down to start some writing but stay for long periods of time without writing - perhaps teachers say the lesson or exam ends and little has been committed to paper?
*Finish a writing task quickly without giving it much thought?

Why do I love teaching this class? It gets children writing! As wonderful, valuable and purposeful writing is - it's also hard. It can be difficult for the most prolific writers let alone those who really don't enjoy it or prefer to talk their ideas out. Even professional authors suffer from writers block. What if it isn't a passion? What if your child finds it a chore? There can be many barriers to getting children to write successfully but equally an abundance of strategies to get them writing!

Children can write or type their ideas - they can also send videos and audios to commit their ideas before getting down to writing. Taking our time - working at the individual students pace. Lessons are 20 mins twice a week and students can submit their work to me any time up until the next task.

There will be a short timed writing exercise during the lesson where children will share their writing.

Each session will focus on an area of writing. I will encourage lots of discussion, input and talking before we start to write. Start short with a sentence and building up. A good writer does not have to mean pages and pages of text. In assessment a great page of writing often carries the same amount of marks as a child who can write page after page after page.

Students can also use video to talk about their subject of interest and submit their homework alongside written work. Encouraging the use of new vocabulary / expression (leading to punctuation) and sentence formation.

If we are planning to build up to writing a short story - it will be split into characters, plot, settings, beginning, middle and end. By the end of the session we will have a whole story. The more we talk the more we can write. The more practice we get writing the more embedded vocabulary there is and then repeat.

Non-fiction writing - child led - with an umbrella topic to capture imagination.

Week 1 - Writing Chat / Vocabulary Work / Key Sentence work - Umbrella Topic - Selected by students
Week 2 - Writing Chat / Vocabulary Work / Key Sentence work - Starting a paragraph - Topic
Week 3 - Writing Chat / Vocabulary Work / Key Sentence work - Writing the main part of a report / informational piece
Week 4 - Writing Chat / Vocabulary Work / Key Sentence work / Punctuation - Writing the conclusion of a report

This course can also be a supporting tool for children who being supported at school with Written Expression Disorder - who can express their ideas, however when it comes to writing they need extra scaffolding.