Check out the title of this article. Is this just my experience, or is it yours, too? Have you discovered that gifted kids (at least many of them) hate to write? While most of them can and will easily talk for hours (or days) about topics of interest to them, ask them to write, and it’s as though brain-freeze, pencil-avoidance, keyboard-trauma, or just plain stubbornness sets in.
I have often wondered about this dread of writing, and what we can do about it to help our gifted kids. Of the many things I have tried over the years, I seem to have overlooked the obvious -- and that is to make writing more interesting AND MORE challenging (because many gifted kids thrive on challenge). This may sound counterintuitive, but it is worth a try.
The idea came from an article in NYMetroparents entitled Why Do So Many Gifted and Talented Children Hate to Write? In this article by Tobi J. Phillips, Headmaster and Founder of Village East Gifted, suggests that talking about a subject of great interest is relatively easy for gifted kids. They are vast storehouses of knowledge, and when talking, they don’t have to worry about conventions (grammar and spelling), word choice, flow of ideas, transitions, etc. -- all of the things that make good writing beautiful and perfect. Coincidentally, perfection is exactly what cripples many of our gifted kids when they write. If, instead, they were encouraged to write using a creative format, a challenge, if you will, they may focus on the challenge, and the writing will flow. Their natural knowledge of the subject will shine through, and their writing will also begin to look like more mature writing, worthy of the great ideas already in their mind.
Specifically, here is what Phillips suggests:
Give your child/ren a white board with red, blue and green markers (no paper allowed). Next, have children choose an exotic setting, an interesting character or characters, and some things that must be included in the story (example, a parrot, skis, an old shoe). Explain that the story must have a beginning, middle and end.Then apply these rules:
Sentence #2: six words
Sentence #3: seven words
Sentence #4: eight words
Sentence #5: nine words
Sentence #6: ten words
Sentence #7: ten words
9. The entire story must be told by the last word of the last sentence.
After your child has finished the challenge, celebrate and take a picture of your child -- you have taken a first step toward more complex writing. Hopefully, you are both smiling.
A couple of additional tips might be to have a Thesaurus and Dictionary app handy, a word bank of descriptive words (I call them 50 cent and dollar words), and some small treats. Writing well takes energy!
As always, I hope this foray into ideas that may help develop the talents of gifted and talented students helps you in your parenting or teaching.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Past President, WATG
Gifted in Perspective
A column designed to link the gifted perspective to other perspectives, and to make you think.