Like boys and action, reading and writing go hand-in-hand. Both are critical skills for literacy. It is through writing that boys will learn to formulate thoughts and improve their creativity and thinking skills.
Unfortunately boys who are reluctant to do one, usually resist the other as well. Here are five ideas, that utilize activities and interests that most appeal to boys, to get them writing:
#1 Involve Their Interests
‘Write what you know’ is one of the basic guidelines. This is especially important to remember when encouraging boys who are reluctant to write, since pushing them outside of comfort zones can be overwhelming. Place value on boys’ interests and the knowledge which they already have by encouraging them to write about their hobbies, favorite topics or other activities.
#2 The Wonder of What-ifs
Boys often think of “make-believe” and “playing pretend” as “girl” activities. Since they encourage imagination, boys who resist those activities are missing out on creative opportunities. With a game of “what-ifs” boys can be encouraged to explore their imagination too.
After reading a book or watching a movie together, ask your student or son, “what do you think would have happened if…” and present him with a different plot development. Encourage him to ask his own “what-if” questions and then write down his thoughts. The freedom to change a story to his liking will make it fun!
#3 Involve Technology
Projects that include computers and technology are an instant hit with boys. We know they already use computers for social activities. While they are on chat and game sites, encourage boys to explore the writing opportunities that are just a click away. As we’ve discussed before, the internet provides communities, inspiration and motivators that can engage boys with writing.
#4 Utilize Artwork
Pictures and images can be great motivators for boys who are visual learners. The images give them a concrete beginning to build on, which is less frustrating for them than abstract ideas.
Ask your student or son to draw a picture of an activity he enjoys or his favorite characters from a comic, movie or book. Next ask him to tell the story of what is happening in his picture – encourage him to include backstory and what he thinks will happen next. Artwork can also be utilized for boys who are resistant to drawing. Ask them to find a picture they like in a magazine or book and to write about that instead.
#5 Genres Rule!
If boys do not enjoy reading fiction, they most likely will not enjoy writing it either. Make it okay for them to write other genres – non-fiction, science fiction, mysteries, etc.
Include the sports they like to play or watch. Encourage them to be a Sports Writers and write a recap of the baseball game they watched on Saturday afternoon. If your son enjoys mysteries, ask him to be a Detective (complete with a Detective hat and notepad) and find something that is missing in your house. Most likely the initial search mission will take him on an adventure that he will be eager to write about and share later.
These ideas can be adapted for the age and writing level of your student or son. The possible variations are endless. Once you have their interest, involve reading by recommending books with topics similar to the ones about which they wrote. Reading will help make them better writers. With your encouragement and creativity, you can help motivate boy writers.