I hear you. Trying to build up writing stamina in kindergarten can seem impossible. Especially at the beginning of the year when most of our students are not “writing” yet.
But it’s possible! Especially with these tried and true tips for building up your students’ writing stamina.
Building Writing Stamina in Kindergarten
At the beginning of the year, you want your students to want to write for longer periods of time. Start off writing for short periods of time and slowly build up.
The first few days of Writer’s Workshop, my students write for only a couple minutes! They all groan when I call them back to the carpet.
But that’s good! Instead of feeling like they were bored and were counting down the minutes until they were done, they see writing as something fun and they can’t wait to do it again.
Build Writing Stamina with Music
This is one of the suggestions I give in my Writing With Pictures unit of Writer’s Workshop. Yes, you’re going to find that your students lack stamina for writing, even when the writing is “just drawing.” Remember, this is all new for them!
I love using music to help us build our stamina. We start off by only writing for the length of one song. Then we slowly increase it to two songs.. and then three songs.. and so on until we are writing for the desired amount of time.
Give Your Students Planning Time
Give your students time to think about what they are going to write and then turn and talk with a partner.
Before students can write a story, they have to be able to tell it. That’s why I started my Writer’s Workshop units off with an Oral Language unit – because it is so important to our students’ growth as writers that they first grow as speakers and listeners!
Even in the later units, I encourage you to give your students time between the mini-lesson and independent writing time to turn and talk with a partner about what they are going to write. If students have time to plan out and talk about their story before hands, they are likely to spend more time on focused writing once they get to their table (and less time sitting and thinking of an idea).
Find a Comfortable Writing Spot
I don’t know about you, but when i’m working on something, I rarely sit at my desk to work on it. I will sit on my couch or at the kitchen island or spread out on the floor before I hunch over a desk. Why? Because I want to be comfortable when i’m working.
I encourage you to allow your students to find writing spots around the room. Many of my students still prefer to sit at tables, but I also have those who like to get a clipboard and sprawl out on the floor or sit on a cozy beanbag chair to write. When students are comfortable, they’re able to stay focused longer.
Build Writing Fluency
I encourage you to have a separate time of day to practice handwriting and writing fluency. This should not take the place of your writing workshop! I know, I know. When is there time?
At the beginning of the year, your writing workshop will be shorter as you build stamina. I encourage you to take that extra time (either then or at another time of day) to practice letter formation and handwriting. It shouldn’t be an either or thing.
Why work on writing fluency? When students are not automatic at writing letters and words, they have to put a lot more thought into the formation of what they are writing. This takes a lot of brain power and can decrease their overall stamina for writing! The more muscle memory they have for writing, the more they can focus on the content of their writing.
Write Every Day to Build Writing Stamina
I’m about to admit something that i’m ashamed of, but it’s true – when our schedule got jam-packed and crazy, writing workshop used to be the first thing I cut out. I know! Bad!
This was before I truly understood the power of writer’s workshop. I figured we wrote so much in every other area that students were still getting what they needed. And they were writing! A lot! But it wasn’t the same as having time to practice just writing. Now that I know better, writer’s workshop is the last thing I cut.
Think about it. If you were trying to build up your physical muscles, you wouldn’t skip out on the gym and expect them to grow the same amount. Stamina is a muscle we have to work out. The more we use it, the stronger it gets.
I hope this post was helpful to you! What other questions do you have about Writer’s Workshop in kindergarten?
Find Writing Workshop units for the year here.
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