How to Use Writing As Punishment

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Using writing as punishment in the classroom can send students a mixed message, according to The New York Times and plenty of other research. Writing can be an invaluable method of communication and and self-expression, and using it as a punishment inspires children to resent developing a skill that serves them creatively, academically and professionally. If you choose to use writing as a punishment, keep in mind there might be some backlash. Be prepared to explain what you expect to accomplish and how writing as a punishment will steer children toward your intended results.

1 Don't assign busywork

Don't assign busywork. Having a child write 100 times, "I will not talk in class," is counter-productive. Use punishment to stimulate children's brains, rather than encouraging them to resent the idea of school and writing in general. Encourage the children's natural creativity by avoiding repetitious or boring writing punishments.

2 Make the writing assignment

Make the writing assignment appropriate to the grade level. For example, if a second-grader says a cuss word, don't ask her to write a 1,000-word essay on the history of the word. A punishment for the child shouldn't be a punishment for her parents; the assignment should be simple enough for the child to finish on her own with no help.

3 Make it interesting

Make it interesting. Although you're using writing as a punishment, you don't want the child to associate writing with negative emotions. Allow the child to write about his favorite subject, or about something he'd like to learn. Let the assignment teach the child something about himself. For example, assign an essay on the history of the child's name, or five paragraphs about the history of his family.

4 Let the punishment showcase

Let the punishment showcase the child's creativity. Punish a child who's talking during quiet time by having her write a play called, "The Girl Who Couldn't Stop Talking." Punish a child who's dancing during the Pledge of Allegiance by having him write a short story called, "The Star-Spangled Dance Pants." Use the punishment to show the children their behavior is inappropriate, as well as mine their natural talents and enhance their self-esteem.

5 Be willing to let it go

Be willing to let it go. Some students hate writing, no matter how fun the assignment is. Asking them to write as punishment might cause them to avoid you and the class altogether. Don't allow dread of the assignment to grow in the children's minds until it negatively affects their social and/or academic performance. Set a deadline. If the child doesn't complete the assignment by the deadline, come up with another punishment that doesn't involve writing. Care more about the child's emotional well-being than making a point.

Oubria Tronshaw specializes in topics related to parenting and business. She received a Bachelor of Arts in creative writing from the Santa Fe University of Art and Design, and a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from Chicago State University. She currently teaches English at Harper Community College in the Chicago area.