Teaching Children How to Write
By: Senny Suzanna Alwasilah
Menulis adalah mengekpresikan perasaan, imajinasi, pengetahuan, dan gagasan. Kemampuan menulis tidak bisa hanya dengan mengandalkan bakat, tapi perlu sebilangan latihan supaya menulis menjadi suatu kebiasaan. Mengajarkan menulis pada anak sesungguhnya bukan pejkerjaan yang sulit sejauh kita melatihnya dengan cara yang benar. Ketika di sejolah anak selalu diberi tugas menulis dengan judul yang ditentukan oleh guru, maka suatu hari manakala mereka disuruh menulis dengan judul bebas mereka akan kelabakan karena terbiasa diberi judul oleh gurunya. Banyak cara yang bisa diberikan untuk membuat murid pandai menulis. Guru harus membimbing mereka dengan cara yang disukai oleh muridnya.
Keywords: children, writing, journal, diary, reward.
Writing is one way to expressing feeling thinking, ideas, imagination, and sharing knowledge. It may vary from one to another in expressing what thy have in their minds. Some might be difficult to express them through writing but others love to write rather than to utter it.
It seems easy to say that writing is only verbalize thinking, but actually writing is a hard work. Different from spoken language, in writing some students might face the problems of putting their ideas onto paper, spelling, writing mechanics, choice of diction as well as making coherence between thinking and writing. Thinking and writing may lead students to find the ideas, to process and to publish it (showing the product of writing to the teacher).
According to writing expert, writing is a process of continuous thinking, experimenting, and reviewing. He mentions that the activity of writing is divided into three stages: rehearsing, drafting, and revising. Rehearsing is the stage in which student writers discover what they have to write. Teachers can encourage students to think and write details about a person, a place or an event meaningful process of improving writing product. And revising is the final stage where the students examine their pieces and clarify what they have written.
In learning to write, students may also read written texts produced by other students. From them they will learn, adopt and absorb the models of writing, then they will create their own. Several researches on reading and writing reveal that reading has stronger influence on improving writing. Good writers report more pleasure reading when younger, read the newspaper more, and own more books at home. From those researches it is obvious that writing has close connection to reading.
Desire to write begins at early age. Gesture is writing in the air. We notice when babies are lying down on their cribs, they often move their arms. Although they are meaningless gesture, by responding, we give them a try to learn the power of gestures.
As soon as children enter kindergarten, teachers may lead them to draw and write as the first step of learning to write. We cannot let a child drive a car on the busy streets by showing him a movie about how to drive or reading him a guide to drive well. In the similar way, the teachers should not only give students an instruction or guide how to write but also let them create different forms of writing.
Youngsters will love to write if we ask them to. Without feeling worried they will express their ideas on the paper. Naturally, they transfer what they have in their minds into written works. In this case, teachers are supposed to encourage them to write more by showing them an appreciation or giving them some comments on what they have done. “Good job!”, “marvelous!”, ”Wonderful!” , or “I didn’t know that you can write!” are magic words to lead them to write better. Research suggests that feedback is useful when it is done during the writing process or between drafts.
We cannot deny that young children lack written language symbols but the teachers may give them a try. Drawing will help them to clarify the messages they want to explain. They will transfer their ideas through pictures. Drawing is also an important stage of writing. For children, drawing is a means of transferring ideas. If we give them opportunities to write and provide rich literate environments, the children will learn quickly.
Beginning first grade of elementary schools, students do not need any drawing in their writing. They tend to lead themselves to write what they have in their head, what they have seen, and have heard in their surrounding. Although they might have incorrect perception from what they got, children have natural urge to express and to play with words. Let say, it is a new experience to jot down their ideas on the paper. It might be fun for them to do such a thing. Make sure to give students enough time to write and do not expect them to start and to finish an essay in less than an hour. Don’t push them to finish their works early.
Young children write slowly. It needs time for them to think about the topic, to transfer ideas onto paper, to sharpen the pencil, as well as to talk to friends. Teachers have to be conscious that a process is better than a product. And it is much better to let them choose their own topic rather than drop a certain topic. By giving them a title “a vacation at Grandma’s house” or “Visit the zoo”, students will find it difficult to play with their imagination, unless they have been to the zoo and visit their grandma’s house.
Even though it might be difficult for them to find a certain topic to write, we are supposed to give them a chance to explore any information they got in their schools and social life.
One of the methods to make students love to write is to give them a home work of journaling. Teachers may ask parents to provide diary books for their children. Teachers instruct the students to write their daily activities, both school and home activities. Teachers may see the progress of their journal every week. At the end of school semester they have written the journal throughout the book. This kind of method gives them ability to write subconsciously.
Teachers may also “punish” students’ behavior in class by doing such a kind of writing. To punish them who fight at school, teachers do not ask students to write “I will not fight at school anymore” one page long, but let them sit, and have them write the reason of squirreling silently. Teachers may exchange their works among them. Each student reads his/her friends’ letters.
Together with students, the teachers solve the problem of fighting. This kind of writing is an act of real communication. According to a research, it is harder for children tell a lie about what has happened on paper rather than orally. Teachers can get two advantages from this. Solving the problem of fighting and teach students to expel what they have in their minds through written communication.
The idea of using literature as a means of writing is also possible. Before asking students to write, teachers provide a famous short story to be read in front of the class and let the students listen to it carefully. At the time teachers finish reading the story, teachers ask the students to write comments about the story whether they like or do not like the story, the characters and the ending of the story. Let students express their own opinions, and share them with friends. There are so many ways to teach children to write and some day we will be proud of their good jobs as writers. ***
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Sebranek, Patric, et al. (2001). Writer, Inc. Wilmington: Great Source Education Gropu, Inc.
Tompkins, Gail E. (1993) Teaching Writing: Balancing Process and Product. New York: Macmillan College Publishing Company.