New Year’s resolutions for writers

Resolve to build and reinforce writing skills with hands-on activities for each of the four seasons.

JANUARY is the perfect time to set goals for learning and growing with our families. If your journey in 2014 will include writing lessons with any age, then this list of New Year’s resolutions for writers is for you.

Inspired by common metaphors and figures of speech, our playful list includes a lesson to be learned in each of the four seasons. Let the hands-on adventures in writing begin!

Spring: Resolve to Polish Your Writing

Spring cleaning rituals remind us to notice details, from closet doorknobs to dusty cabinets. When we take time to scrub, buff, and polish our belongings, we learn to appreciate each part of our home—and we begin to understand how all the parts work together.

Invite your children to help you polish wood furniture, hardwood floors, or heirloom silver. Ask them to describe the difference before and after their efforts. Then, the next time they turn in a dull piece of writing, remind them why we need to edit: if you polish your writing, you’ll make it shine!

Summer: Resolve Not To Cherry-Pick Facts and Examples

The summer months offer opportunities for enjoying hand-picked fruit. If possible, arrange for your teens to spend an afternoon picking cherries, strawberries, or other delicate fruits. Do they choose only the best and ripest specimens? Explain to them that while a basket of smooth, plump fruit is the most appealing, it doesn’t accurately represent the whole tree (or crop).

Through high school and college, your teen will likely write research papers on a variety of topics. Although it’s tempting to cherry-pick examples—to include only the most convenient evidence—it’s important to present both sides of the picture. A paper about a well-known author should discuss both the fans and the critics. A paper on historic events should weigh opposing, contradictory sources. Help your teen remember: When you cherry-pick examples, your readers lose sight of the whole tree.

Fall: Resolve to Encourage Late Bloomers

When the showy flowers of summer fade, fall gardens burst into new and beautiful colors. Pink and purple asters, warm heleniums, and goldenrod are just a few of the late bloomers that delight autumn gardeners and attract migrating butterflies on their journey south.

Mom of late bloomers, you might be tempted to give up when it comes to teaching writing. But don’t lose hope! Encourage your child by reading aloud, letting him dictate assignments, and trying different writing programs, such as WriteShop. Your child might be a late bloomer, but he will brighten the world in his own special time.

Winter: Resolve to Celebrate the Snowball Effect

Rolling down a white winter hillside, a little snowball can quickly gain mass and momentum. At the journey’s beginning, that fluffy snowball won’t have much to brag about. When it reaches the end of the long white slope, however, the snowball is really something to see and admire!

Look back on the past year and recognize the snowball effect in your child’s writing skills. Each lesson learned, no matter how small, builds on the last until progress is overwhelmingly clear. Celebrate the small successes and tiny achievements. Each one is building your child into an independent, well-equipped writer.

Daniella Dautrich is a WriteShop alumna who adores all four seasons.

Photo: Ann, courtesy of Creative Commons
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