Family ties are the write way

3rd February 2006 at 00:00
If you have to engage boys in writing, you will no doubt use a range of starting points as stimuli, but have you tried getting their families on board as positive role models?

After exhausting the usual avenues, with varying levels of success, I sent a letter home with my Year 5 children asking their dads, uncles or grandfathers to send in a piece of writing. You will need to make it as non-threatening as possible to get a positive response.

I stressed that it could be any kind of writing - something they had written for their work or something they had done for pleasure. Once I got one piece of work in, the rest of the children applied a bit of pressure on my behalf.

The response to my request was fantastic. The children loved it as they thought the idea of their parents getting homework was great, and the response from adults was overwhelming.

The range of writing was incredible. There were recipes, accounts of childhood escapades, poems and even some letters, written in character, from the trenches of the First World War to a sweetheart at home.

Once you have gathered the writing, display it in school and invite the authors to come and see it and talk informally to the children about their work. The children really enjoyed this and the dads were able to interact with their children in a way I had not seen before in a school.

The project had a really positive impact on the boys in the class and their attitude towards writing. There was also the added bonus of being able to build good relationships with fathers and other male relatives who subsequently became more closely involved in the children's education. It really is a quick, easy to administer and effective way of boosting boys'

attitudes to writing.

Jon Lymer Year 6 teacher, Mill Lane Primary School, Stockton-on-Tees

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