Why real experiences are powerful for writing

Written expression can be a challenging and stressful experience for any student. Difficulties with generating ideas for a narrative, troubles responding to key questions (‘who’, ‘what’, ‘when’, ‘where’)....


Writing...what's the big deal?

Written expression can be a challenging and stressful experience for any student. Difficulties with generating ideas for a narrative, troubles responding to key questions (‘who’, ‘what’, ‘when’, ‘where’) and not knowing which words to use are just some of the roadblocks that children may encounter on their writing tasks.

Students need a way to relate to a task and find personal meaning in what they write. If students are able to draw upon personal experiences and interests, writing becomes an engaging task through which children can use written language in a way that is meaningful to them.

Parents, teachers and clinicians can achieve this through a multi-sensory approach to learning. 

This means choosing an activity that engages the key senses - auditory (what we hear), visual (what we see), and tactile/kinaesthetic (what we can touch and do). Each of these is an avenue through which children can receive different types of information and exercise multiple memory pathways necessary to produce sustained, deep learning.

By engaging a child in a real experience, language learning occurs in a way that is appropriate for the child’s individual learning style. Your child can then draw upon the knowledge taken from this experience to find inspiration, trigger new ideas and generate language for their writing task.

Tips and tricks to achieve this at home.

Creating ‘real experiences’ doesn’t have to be difficult! Check out these activities you can do using things you have in your house:

  • Make a yummy snack! Try making a sandwich or delicious iced chocolate.
  • Create easy science experiments with the ingredients you have in your pantry. Our favourites are the Lava Lamp and Baking Soda Volcano.
  • Stuck for ideas? Why not look through photographs of a recent event that your child participated in? A friend’s birthday party or trip to the zoo are just a few experiences your child can write about.
  • Think about real experiences that the child encounters in everyday life (e.g. helping a parent prepare a meal).

Support your child’s success by using written instructions with photographs to support their understanding. You can also watch a video tutorial before completing the task so they know exactly what to do. Each step can be captured with a photo. Have these handy while your child is writing so they can remember what they did.

Talk to your Speech Pathologist.

They can support your child’s written expression by designing intervention sessions that integrate visual, auditory and tactile experiences for your child. A therapist can support you to replicate similar activities at home, using materials you already own and by taking advantage of everyday routines.

Most importantly, a speech pathologist will support your child’s writing by offering their clinical expertise and tailoring the session to suit your child’s abilities. They are equipped to design writing scaffolds, visual supports and to give your child the power of knowing what to do when writing tasks get challenging.


Pourhosein Gilakjani, A. (2011). Visual, Auditory, Kinaesthetic Learning Styles and Their Impacts on
             English Language Teaching. Journal Of Studies In Education, 2(1), 469-472.
             doi: 10.5296/jse.v2i1.1007

Schumann, J. (1997). The neurobiology of affect in language. Boston: Blackwell.

By Christine Merhi
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