Okay, your kid is reading now, thanks to your faithful adherence to the seven Minor But Magical Adjustments laid out in Part I. Or maybe you’re not quite there yet, but you happen to know that reading and writing are flipsides of the same skill set.
So here’s another seven MBMAs, focused this time on getting the kid’s pencil to paper. Same caveat applies: patience and good humor, people!
1. Pass notes. No, really: get a paper and a pencil, and write a naughty little note (preferably one that demands a naughty response), fold it up really small, and pass it under the table to your kid. Do this with lots of winks and nudges, and do it often.
2. Create scavenger hunts. Note #1 says, “Look in the bathtub,” wherein Note #2 says, “Look in the washing machine,” and so on. Leave a treat in the final location. (If you have bad knees and a row house, use this tactic under advisement; your kid will send you on twenty hunts for every one you create for him!).
3. Make wish-lists from Toys R Us flyers or from the website. Birthday lists, Hanukkah, ideas for gifts for so-and-so’s upcoming birthday party–any excuse is good. Laborious copying-out is excellent practice, and if the next day you bring home the ZhuZhu he wanted most, the reinforcement will sear it into his brain forever: writing=good!
4. Get a label-maker and let him label everything he owns.
5. Get a second-hand electric typewriter. They still sell replacement ribbons! This ancient technology has an instant-gratification factor for a kid that the laptop just can’t offer. Let him write out the words to a song he’s not allowed to sing, and watch the magic happen.
6. Find comics templates like this one online, print them out, and let the kid fill in the text.
7. Rediscover the lost art of pen pals. Have a friend or grandparent write the kid a letter (no cursive, please!) that contains candy and concludes with, “If you write me back, I will send you another letter and treat!” (Note that you’ll have to rig this. A one-sentence letter from the kid has to suffice, and you may have to give the pen pal the script and/or the candy).