Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Young Children and Writing Difficulty

Question: Why is writing difficult for young children?

Answer: “At the close of his book Writing, Donald Graves said, ‘Children grow as writers because they wrestle with imbalances between their intentions and the problems at hand.’ For those who know the work of Graves, this summarizes his perspective that children have the same desire to write that they do to talk or play. As children encounter problems and overcome them, growth occurs. The obstacles of spelling, motor coordination, grammatical conventions, topical focus, and revision are surmounted as writing matures, according to Graves.” P. 906.

Add to these obstacles, the differences between narrative and opinion (expository) structures of writing. Story Structure:  “This traditional story structure included (1) the initiating event, (2) description of the feelings and characteristics of the characters, (3) a center plot with a hero pursuing a goal, (4) consequences and (5) a resolution.” P. 967.

On the other hand the structure for opinions (exposition) has been summed up by the famous dictum: “Tell them what you are going to tell them; tell them; and tell them what you told them.”

Comment: Donald Graves may believe that children write as naturally as they talk and play, but there’s a whole lot of stuff that has to be taught before children’s writing matures. As in the preceding article, a good place to begin is with the language experience approach (LEA). RayS.

Title: “Research Views: Expression of Narrative and Opinion.” John T. Guthrie. The Reading Teacher (May 1984), 906-908.

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