How can I get my 9 year old 4th grader to write better and have it not be so boring?How can I get my 9 year old 4th grader to write better and have it not be so boring?

Expert Answers
ask996 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I too would caution you as to how you proceed with your 9 year old. Does your child pursue writing on his or her own, or do you recognize quality writing as an important life skill? As a teacher consultant for the National Writing Project, I know of many students--both child and adult who stopped writing because of devastating experiences with regard to writing teachers. Please understand the importance of supporting any effort of writing at this age.

 As the earlier post mentioned Nancie Atwell, I will refer to her as well. Nancie Atwell addresses the idea of writing territories. Writing territories is a list of different things about which your child could write. Pets, friends, toys, favorite books, fun activities, vacations, and etc. The idea is that developing writers will write more and write better if they develop this skill writing about things that interest them. As writers select topics from the territories and then write about them, they will cross the items off the list. As writers discover more things about which they can write, they add those to the territories list.

Encourage any and all types of writing, and understand there is a difference between drafting pieces and publishing pieces. Let your child experience the creativity of drafting, and then let your child choose what he or she might want to take from a draft to a more polished piece of writing.

tandrewfield eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think one of the best ways to write better is to write more.  This doesn't mean writing lines or copying a glossary or anything else you and I would consider a punishment, but fun writing. 

Have your child write stories, journals, or best of all, letters!  My 9 year old has just discovered email and loves to email relatives with lengthy emails.  Don't be critical of spelling or grammar -- when a child is communicating via writing, he or she will develop an appropriate concern with that. 

For example, my daughter doesn't want her grandfather to laugh if she misspells something in an email - she wants to appear as old as her older siblings -- so she will ask how to spell a word if she needs to.  I haven't clued her in on spell check yet!

Depending on your personal beliefs, there are also kid-friendly web sites that foster some written social interaction.  This interaction is limited to very short, typed, text-type messages, but you'd be surprised at some of the skills that emerge.  My daughters' favorite sites are Club Penguin, Webkinz, and Chobots. 

drmonica eNotes educator| Certified Educator

At the risk of sounding a little harsh, unless you are your child’s classroom teacher, it really is not your job to critique your child’s writing. It could be devastating to your child to know that you think his or her writing is boring. Please be very careful with your criticism, which I am sure you are doing. A fourth-grader has a lot of developing to do as a writer, so don’t be too concerned with his or her skills in developing the audience’s interest at this early stage. I was a horrendously boring writer until I got into high school.

I’m also sure that you want your child to be academically successful. The best way for a parent to do that is to provide a print-rich environment so your child will see models of good writing by reading them. If you are concerned that your child needs to learn to write more interesting content, then provide him or her with interesting content to read. This does not necessarily mean "the classics." I was an avid reader of Batman comic books and the Nancy Drew series when I was in elementary school.

Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Nancie Atwell, in her book, "In The Middle," on reading and writing instruction, writes that "Readers read writing and writers write reading."  I think this summarizes the approach that reading and writing go together.  It seems that enhancing a child's reading plays a profound impact in the child's writing.  I think this is because as a child reads more, they learn to emulate other writers' styles into their own.  I think that the instinct needed to play around with language, develop more colorful and vibrant ways to express reality, as well as the depth given to characterizations can happen much better if there is an encouragement to read different writers', different forms of writing, as well as broadening a child's base of reading which can help to serve as the base to enhance their writing.

marbar57 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I bought my son a journal from the office supply store and he gets to write in it for fifteen minutes every day.  He can write anything he wants in it as long as it's not vulgar or offensive.  It's his time and his space.  Nobody gets to interrupt him at it, not even me.  And, nobody gets to read it, not even me. 

By providing him with something to look forward to and respecting his privacy and space has created a means and motivation for him to write.  He's in his own little world; nothing is impossible, and whatever he writes is ok if it's misspelled or gramatically incorrect.  No worries--he will get enough grammar and spelling at school.

My sons works well with this type of motivation.  By making writing fun and special for him, it's no longer a drudgery or boring. 

copelmat eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Help your 9-year-old to find topics that he or she wants to write about, things that are natural interests or hobbies. If your child plays baseball, have her write about about baseball. If he likes pizza, have him write about pizza. Once a topic is identified, help your child write different works for different audiences and different purposes. Write a persuasive letter to the city council encouraging more baseball leagues, or the school lunch program requesting more pizza. Write a how-to manual for playing baseball or making pizza. Write a narrative about a favorite baseball game or a particularly good pizze. Write that narrative for friends, then again for adults, then for someone who has never heard of baseball or pizza.


Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator| Certified Educator
How can I get my 9 year old 4th grader to write better and have it not be so boring?

How can I get my 9 year old 4th grader to write better and have it not be so boring?

One method is an ancient one employed by all past masters of arts: Have your children imitate their favorite books! What's a favorite? "Where Wild Things Are"? "The Secret Garden"? Have them read a favorite (or you read it to them) and then have them write their "own" story like the favorite--imitate it. Be sure to discuss plagiarism first, stating that this imitation is just for fun and cannot be done for school or the public! This technique can really charge some creative brain synapses and build dendrites!

tandrewfield eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Another suggestion I thought of today at work was to find your child a penpal.  It doesn't have to be an old-fashioned pen-and-ink penpal; there are many places to find penpals online.  many people who use English as a second language are dying to chat with Americans online in order to improve their English, and it would allow your child to not only communicate in a genuine fashion, but to strengthen his or her grasp of English mechanics as well.

keerazee | Student

Hi!  At first when I read your question, I thought you meant that your 9-year old's writing is boring!  I thought that was a bit harsh - but then I realized you mean that your 9-year old finds writing boring . . . right?

Well, what helped me when I was a kid was reading.  My mother didn't have much money, so we paid regular visits to the library.  There were lots of magazine for kids that had writing contests, etc.  I also always had at least two or three pen-pals all throughout my childhood, and that helped me to tell a story on paper.  There may also be fun storytelling performances you can bring your kid to.  Getting hooked on telling stories might prompt her or him to want to write.