This is a question that often comes up, when I talk to parents about taking dictation from their kids.
I understand the concern. I’ve had the same worry myself.
But remember this: if you’re taking dictation from kids, you’re helping them see the value of expressing themselves in writing. The usefulness of having a written record of their thoughts.
And eventually, they’ll start writing on their own.
It will probably start small.
A title to a drawing, maybe. Or a caption.
(This one cracks me up. It’s the last page of a battle comic. Note that everyone is head-stabbingly, eye-crossingly dead. I was wondering why he wanted to know how to spell Mondays…)
They may give names to characters drawn.
Or keep a list of favorite Pokemon cards.
Next thing you know, they’re jotting down statistics as they play video games. (Cue up my waldorf guilt.)
I didn’t ask Mr. T to do any of this writing. Usually, I didn’t even know he was doing it. I just found it lying around.
It took me a long time to believe this, but now I do: if you don’t bug kids about writing, if you don’t force them to do it, if you value writing in your home, if you’re willing to write for them occasionally…they will come to writing on their own. At their own time, in their own way. H. liked to make elaborate Calvin-esque Keep Out signs for his bedroom door. Lulu liked to keep lists of her Beanie Babies, and to write out fancy daily schedules for her school days at Hogwarts. And that eventually led to other, more advanced writing.
So don’t discount those Pokemon lists, or the Beanie Baby cataloguing. And don’t feel like you have to assign writing topics or penmanship practice pages. Barring underlying issues like dyslexia (which I promised my friend Susan I would acknowledge), kids can learn to write as organically as they learned to talk. They really can.