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My 13 yr Old Wants To Just Read and Not Write, How Can I Help?

January 27th, 2009

My children are 11 and 13.  My 11 yr old has processing problems and my 13 yr old wants to just read and not write.

Thank you,


Today I’ll address the writing problem. Children are often fearful of writing. They think that their writing won’t be any good. This happens to most children at one time or another. It doesn’t matter whether your child is LD, dyslexic, ADHD, CAPD, or gifted. Most children do not feel very competent when given a writing assignment. The good news is, the more often they write, the better they will get. But, what do you do in the meantime to encourage and help them improve their writing? This is what I did.

I’ll never forget the day one of my kids had a friend over during the evening while his mom was at a meeting. He had just broken his arm and had a homework assignment to complete. He was at a loss on how to get his assignment done because he had broken his right arm.

His assignment was to use his spelling words in a story. I told him, no problem. Let’s see the words you need to put into the story. He slowly took out his speller and showed me the words.

Following is the step-by-step sequence of how we worked on his homework assignment.

  • I listed the words on a separate sheet of paper, so we could underline them when he used them.
  • We started talking about how he could put them into a story.
  • We talked about where the story would take place, the time of day, who would be in the story, and what the character might be doing. That covered the who, what, where, and when that is needed when writing a story.
  • As we talked about those things, I jotted them down.

He was ready to start telling me the story.

  • He recited the story, putting in his spelling words, as I wrote it down for him.
  • Every once in a while he’d get ahead of himself and I’d say, “Wait a minute, how did he get from here to here? You need to tell us.”
  • So, he filled in the transition.
  • After this session [about 20 minutes], he had his story done.

Had his hand not been in a partial cast, I would have had him copy it in order to turn it in. But since he couldn’t copy it, I recopied it for him with the transitions put into the correct places.

When his mom came to pick him up, she was amazed that he had gotten the assignment done. Up to now, whenever he had to write a story using his spelling words, he felt totally defeated, like he would never be able to hit a nail on its head. He hated this assignment and got it every week. A major battle ensued.

I explained to her how we did it. She never thought that you could have your kids write a story that way. Now, he’ll always hit the nail on the head! Her son is no longer left to his own devices. He has a strategy that works and will help him to always be successful.

How Does This Strategy Work?

This strategy of dictating stories works because kids minds are usually working faster than their hands. Using this technique to help empower your kids will give them instant success as a writer.

When kids write at the same time as they are creating the story, typically there are many holes in the story, places where words have been left out. That is because they may be writing the first few words of the first thought and then the second thought comes to them and they start writing it as the second half of the first sentence.

What they have now is a mess and they don’t know how to get out of it. They just feel deep down into their bones that they aren’t any good at writing anyway; when in reality they may be very creative writers.

Allow Your Kids To Dictate Stories To You

By allowing your kids to dictate an assignment such as writing a story, and then having them recopy it, they are seeing that they can have success. They can do it; they can SUCCEED.

It takes just a few times of doing their writing this way before kids are able to do a whole story on their own because you have shown them step-by-step how to be successful at it.

That is how to tackle one type of writing assignment. But, you know as well as I that your kids will be getting many writing assignments over the years. For more strategies, see Ten Minutes to Better Study Skills.

Hope this has been helpful!

Bonnie Terry, M. Ed., BCET

2 Responses to “My 13 yr Old Wants To Just Read and Not Write, How Can I Help?”

  1. Liz A. says:

    I love the serendipity in this story. The broken arm started a whole chain of events that ended well. My 15 y.o. daughter was always a strong reader, but didn’t like to write. Actually very few kids do like to write. I remember in middle school, doing well in writing assignments, but not particularly enjoying them.

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