A Still Life, Taylor Swift and…Reluctant Writers

Updated: Aug 3

We all know that reading helps improve writing skills. Why? Because when communicating a person, unless his last name is Shakespeare, mostly copies the verbal patterns (words, phrases, sentence structures) that already exist in his native language. The more one reads the more examples he has a chance to follow. However, what a parent should do if a child doesn’t like reading? Instead of setting a timer and making a child read for twenty minutes a day, let us think about what else can be done to stimulate necessary communicating and cognitive skills.


We shouldn’t forget that in spite of certain differences between oral and written forms of communication, they are close relatives. The logic of the narration, cause and effect relationship, and a child’s attention to detail are equally important in both cases. This is why we should pay attention to the way our kids formulate their ideas while telling us about a subject they are interested in, even if it happens to be a new video game. There is no need to interrupt an emotional monologue! Nevertheless, it is vital for the child to realize that he or she has an active listener in front of him/her who is truly interested in the conversation. An active and friendly (!) listener may be curious about some particular moments in the story, may require additional explanation because something wasn’t clear, or ask what phrases like “sort of” or “kind of” actually mean. A child is rolling his eyes and moans?! Well, then maybe we’re trying too much…


You say that your child doesn’t like reading, but he is listening to music, isn’t he? Sure enough, you may believe that Taylor Swift is nowhere close to Bob Dylan in terms of the lyrics, but it is always worth a try to listen to a song together and discuss it afterward.


“You, with your voice like nails

On a chalkboard, calling me out when I'm wounded”…(Taylor Swift “Mean”)


What kind of voice is this? Can your child act it out? If in the lyrics there was “ a nasty voice” instead, would it make any difference? Which voice is easier to “imagine”?


The snow glows white on the mountain tonight

Not a footprint to be seen

A kingdom of isolation

And it looks like I'm the queen. (“Let it Go” from “Frozen”)



A trip to an art gallery/museum is another excellent opportunity to spend time together admiring paintings of the old masters and contemporary alike and comparing visual and verbal forms of communication.

A trip to an art gallery/museum is another excellent opportunity to spend time together admiring paintings of the old masters and contemporary alike and comparing visual and verbal forms of communication.

A trip to an art gallery/museum is another excellent opportunity to spend time together admiring paintings of the old masters and contemporary alike and comparing visual and verbal forms of communication. While you approach a portrait or a still life, ask your child to close his/her eyes and then open them for a moment, and then say what he or she has seen. Repeat this procedure several times! Which details in this still life by Paul Gauguin will your child notice first? Where would his gaze move further? Which details come into life only after thorough scrutiny? Once your little writer realizes that he is also creating a picture while describing something with a help of words and a person who reads the description wants to see it, he might stop describing a rhinoceros starting from its tail.



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