5 Traits of a Good Writer

We spend hundreds of dollars looking for the “perfect” curriculum that will turn our children into good writers. We try everything — the great classical writing program, the seminar experience offered by “experts,” the step-by-step instructions by professors of writing, and every traditional offering from the textbook publishers. Nothing seems work. Not only has our child not made forward progress — he HATES writing. And no wonder….

When you use real books and real writing, you won’t have much need for textbooks, and particularly workbooks; your children will spend more time writing than learning about writing.

You Can Teach Your Child Successfully by Ruth Beechick (emphasis mine)

Education always starts where we are — whatever our age, level, or maturity. Writing is no different.

First, we must determine where the child is. Does he need to start handwriting practice? Can he put together a few sentences? Does he love to tell very disjointed stories? Or is he completely disinterested?

Next, starting where he is, we encourage him in what he CAN do, adding objectives as he moves forward. The path to excellence will not be rushed.

The good news is that there are traits common to those who have walked the path of writing excellence before us, traits that we can encourage in our children as they begin down their own path.

Here are a few traits of good writers that we can encourage in our own budding writers:

1.  Good writers write frequently.

To be a good writer, you have to write — often.  Like everything else, practice makes perfect.

Since the earliest days of educating our children we have employed the following rule in our home: You must write something every day. This daily writing habit has encouraged an attention to writing that has served our children well.

Now, obviously, if we had given our children mundane writing assignments, we would have lost them! But, no, they got to choose what they would write (with Mom occasionally slipping in an assignment that fit their level and maturity).

Your child can use this opportunity to copy things he enjoys researching, tell back things he enjoys reading, make up a story, explain what he is learning — it is all up to him.

Again, practice makes perfect. Or as Ruth Beechick says, “Learn to write — write!”

2.  Good writers are good readers.

Writing requires input. Information has to go in and be ruminated on long enough to make an association that wants to come out.

Again quoting from Dr. Beechick:

Writing is the other side of reading. Reading is receiving language and writing is producing it. While children grow in reading and writing abilities, they carry on a dialogue, like an extended conversation. Children write. Then they read and see the way books do it. Then they write again, influenced by what happened in their minds while reading. And so it goes, on and on for years. Children who read a lot are better writers.

You Can Teach Your Child Successfully by Ruth Beechick

3.  Good writers have an effective mentor.

Our job is to encourage. We want our children to be able to look back and see how far they have come!

An effective mentor will not overuse the red pen, but will instead focus on one or two skills (only) at a time so as not to discourage.


And these things are all very important when it comes to establishing a healthy writing environment!

4.  Good writers enjoy a love of words.

Oh, the joy of finding the right word needed to express a thought!

We can encourage our children to focus on vocabulary — not the vocabulary-list-drill-test option; but encourage them to love words.

Reading old-fashioned texts and authors is one good way to stretch their lexicon. They might have their own favorite authors and can appreciate the way they turn a phrase.

You also might enjoy reading through these five ideas toward a richer vocabulary.

5.  Good writers accumulate ideas.

If we are establishing a learning environment, inspiring creativity, encouraging interests, and providing mind-fodder, our children should always have a wealth of interesting writing ideas to choose from.

Sometimes it works to simply tell children that they must turn in to you one piece of writing each day…. Once that routine gets going, children develop the habit of grabbing a good idea when it comes along. Sometime during the day each child is likely to have strong feelings about something or other, and they learn to think, “Oh, I’ll write about that.” Or ideas come to them in bed at night and they begin their school day with writing.

You Can Teach Your Child Successfully by Ruth Beechick

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