When toddlers pick up a crayon or pencil, their immediate instinct is to scribble. That is a result of their curiosity and love for exploration. As children grow, their ability to draw and write often grows with them.
Sadly, children's love for writing is easily killed when they start formal education. That is when the sheer enjoyment of creating and writing is replaced with the pressure of getting the formalities of writing correct. Their grammar, spelling, punctuation, sentence structure are all being corrected as they write. Even the topics that kids get to write in school are limited and, as some students have lamented to me, "boring".
Children are not given the room to enjoy writing once they begin formal education. Writing becomes part of the drill for perfection. They learn to write for the sake of scoring for exams. Children become like parrots, regurgitating what they think the teachers or markers of exam scripts like to read.
These are some of the ways that we kill the love for writing in children:
How To Kill Your Child's Love For Writing?
1. Correct every sentence they write.
We breathe down their neck. Every sentence that they write, we are somehow able to find a mistake or two and we correct them immediately. Children become wary of writing the next sentence. This kills their interest and hinders their creativity and flow of thoughts, as they are now focusing on "What should I write next so that my teacher (or mom or dad) will not ask me to erase and rewrite?"
2. Expect perfection right from the first draft.
This is linked to the first point. We do not give room for children to make mistakes, even in their first draft. Due to the rigid examination system, children are taught to get it right the first time. I can understand the rationale of that for subjects like Mathematics and Science. But for writing? Find me an author who has published his/her book in the first draft!
3. Get them to write what you like to read.
Again, this has to do with the pressure of examinations. If teachers like to read certain types of sentences or bombastic phrases, they will be telling their students that these are the stuff that get you more marks in your writing. Inevitably, children will start to write what their teachers like to read, simply because they want to please the teacher and get higher marks for their writing.
4. Force them to memorise other's writing.
Instead of teaching and encouraging children to form their own sentences beautifully, they are being asked to memorise sentences in "model" compositions and textbooks.
5. Give them boring topics to write on.
You can see from a child's eyes whether he is bored or interested. I love to see the sparkle in my students' eyes. When that spark is there, I know that my lesson is a success. When that spark is not there, I often evaluate and ask myself, "What can I do to bring the spark back?"
6. Tell them what they can or cannot write.
Children are generally full of ideas. When asked to write, they are happy to write about topics that excite and interest them. However, that is often not feasible in school. Somehow, children are expected to write a fixed genre in school exams. They are given a fixed set of pictures or topics to write on. There is no room (or time) for free writing in school, except perhaps for journal writing.
I have realised that most children enjoy writing, when they are given the freedom to make mistakes and write on topics that they are interested in.