COVID-19 · stamina · volume · writing workshop

Resources Teachers Can Share With Families: Increase Writing Volume and Stamina at Home

As a literacy coach and consultant who is also a parent to two school-age kids, I have the amazing opportunity to see this school year unfold from both sides of the story. As an educator, I have the inside scoop on the plans, and as a parent, I get to experience those plans firsthand.

One big surprise for me has been how challenging it is to get my first grader to do any drawing or writing at home.

I am a literacy coach and consultant, with decades of experience. In a normal school year, I can walk into literally any first grade classroom and teach a model writing lesson, confident that those first graders will happily write up a storm, pages and pages, even this early in the school year. I’ve had years and years of high level training in how to do this kind of work.

But teaching my own kids is humbling to say the least. At home, I am not the special visiting teacher. I’m not even the teacher. At home, I’m mom. And it is the understatement of the century to say that it is a challenge to teach my own kids. I can’t help but think If I’m struggling with this with all my experience and training, then there are probably lots of families struggling with this as well.

Last week I shared a handout that teachers can share with families that spells out a few basic choices that kids can make while writing at home. This week, I’d like to share some tips for getting kids to write more at home. These are tricks of the trade that I plan to continue to use at home over the coming weeks.

As a teacher, I think it would be helpful to remember that many families might not be familiar with the terminology “volume” and “stamina” as it relates to their young children’s drawing and writing. It may be worth sharing a note or message to teach this vocabulary to families.

Volume = The amount of drawing and writing, including pictures, number of words, sentences, or pages.

Stamina = The amount of time a writer spends working, including drawing, planning, rereading, or storytelling.

The two are often talked about together, but they don’t always correlate. A child could have very high volume (they write a ton, quickly) but low stamina (they can only sustain it for a short burst), or very low volume (they don’t produce high quantity of words or pictures), but super stamina (they can stay engaged for an incredibly long time, and work carefully and slowly).

Volume and stamina do matter quite a bit to developing strong writers. The way to get stronger at most things is through practice, and the more you practice, the more you learn.

If you’d like to adapt this handout with your own specifics, here’s how I made it: In Google slides, I changed the size of the slides to 8.5X11 using the page setup option, and Walter Turncoat font. I made the images myself using the app Procreate on my iPad.

You can also let families know that they are not alone if they’re feeling like it is a struggle to get their kids to do a lot of writing and drawing at home. Even teachers with decades of experience are figuring out how to do this with their own children.


In case you missed it, here is the link to the post where I shared two handouts for families that highlights the different choices kids have at home, one for older students, and one for younger.