How to get a six year old to write
When I first learnt about Charlotte Mason’s methods for teaching writing I must confess I was a little nervous. I thought if I don’t push my children to write now they will be ‘behind’ and will never want to write. That fear was never realised. Today, 15 years into my homeschool journey, I assure you it’s ok to press forward slowly.
Here are some ideas that will show how to get your six year old to write without turning your writing lessons into a stressful experience for everyone.
What To Write?
There are different types of writing that we can expect from our children.
Composition or Write Me a Story – This is a difficult (almost impossible) task for most 6 year olds. They do not have the spelling skills to pull together a story. They may also find that they have no idea what you are really asking them to do. The What I Did on My Holiday is really quite an unnecessary writing exercise at six. They would tell you a much better story than write one.
Copywork – This skill is much easier for the children. With copywork they just have to copy each of the words. Copywork has many benefits. If they are just beginning with writing they could: copy the alphabet, site words or their name. Then they could progress to copying little poems, stories from a book or some scripture.
Many handwriting books ask the child to copy a silly sentence while practising their technique — what a wasted opportunity! Use good quality copywork.
Copywork is more than just bending lines nicely. It should develop good technical skills whilst using fine literature. Quality copywork allows your children to practise their handwriting technique while writing literature from great authors with excellent technique
This Beatrix Potter Copywork eBook is a popular resource for young writers.
Copywork has been used for centuries and is a tried-and-tested method still used today. Copy work is also useful in teaching spelling, memorisation and dictation. Dictation is a more advanced skill and I wouldn’t bother yet.
Narration – This is when the child tells you in their own words what has been read to them. It is the backbone of the Charlotte Mason technique. From six years old you do narration orally and at about 10 you can get them to write them down.
Spelling Practice – I have never done spelling lists or tests. We just use dictation and teach words along the way. We use the Charlotte Mason method for teaching spelling through dictation. This has been successful for us. Here is an example of one of our phonics and spelling lessons.
When They Don’t Write
Having your child write on a worksheet satisfies the need to feel like we did something educational. A conversation has nothing concrete to show. There is no piece of paper we can put in our portfolio, apart from writing down our conversations and who wants to do that!
I have found other ways to get a record of learning that has fairly good compliance but involves no writing for them.
Firstly I prime the canvas. I give them something to think and write about. I read from a good book on the topic we are about to make a notebook entry on. I get them inspired. Sometimes I still have trouble but most times not. After the reading they make a picture entry. Then I get them to tell me what to write about the picture. The amazing detail that they can portray shows they have been listening and understanding our topic.
Teaching Handwriting, Spelling and Grammar the Charlotte Mason Way is a simple ebook that breaks down the process of teaching handwriting.
This post has been updated from 2009