Helping Your Child Build Writing Skills, Communicate, Listen and Observe
“Writers are like dancers, like athletes. Without that exercise, the muscles seize up.” –Jane Yolen
Writing is crucial to your child’s ability to communicate. Especially, in this digital era of emails, text messages, tweets and more. Their written word will help them exchange ideas, complete tasks and demonstrate their knowledge and skills. Your child will use their writing skills to explain other subjects they learn in school such as math, science, history, etc. and use these skills to express their opinions and how they see the world.
When beginning to teach your child to write they must have an understanding of the language and the different ways people communicate, so talk with them often, practice good listening skills and read to them often. Writing takes research, observation, creativity, thought and time. Writing is a chance for your child to express their individuality, create ideas and convey their thoughts and creativity to the world. It helps children organize facts and opinions and foster their memories. Your child will be able to give others feedback through their writing and will also be the basis on which their intelligence, education and critical thinking will be judged and evaluated.
Here are some ideas to enhance your child’s writing skills:
- Create a clean workspace and desktop for your child to write on with paper and with a computer. Have their desk stocked with blank paper, notebooks, plenty of different colored pens, pencils, erasers and whiteout. Make sure they have an age appropriate dictionary and thesaurus handy as well.
- Read to your child every day. Good writers are often versed in a variety of subjects and do the research to learn new information, develop content and create new ideas and stories. Select books for your child with an array of interests you think will engage them and will benefit them in the future.
- Don’t rely on spell check and autocorrect. Make sure your child has spelling, punctuation and grammar skills independent of any phone or computer program. They should be able to write and spell correctly with a pen and paper only. When your children are older and chat online or send texts to friends encourage them to use their spelling and grammar skills on their own without having to use autocorrect. Have them take the time to look up a word in the dictionary for the correct spelling or context. Suggest that they use spell check at the very end of their writing assignment so they can correct mistakes on their own and see where they need to improve.
- Invite your child to write letters and notes regularly by giving them notes and sharing letters and cards from friends and family members. Make sure they write thank you notes after they receive gifts to show their appreciation and nice messages to friends and family for birthdays, holidays and when they are sick.
- Encourage your child to write in a daily journal or diary. They can write in it after school or at night before they go to bed or keep it with them whenever they have spare time to write down their thoughts.
- Practice handwriting and cursive. Make sure they can write legibly. If you see their writing getting sloppy, have them practice trouble spots and repeat letters on a notebook line and then repeat words until they are clear.
- Buy index cards for new vocabulary words and quiz them weekly. Start using those words yourself in daily conversation.
- Practice dictation. Give your child instructions verbally while you have them write the instructions down on paper. Practice dictation with a keyboard as well. Teach them to write down phone messages too and take ideas down during a family meeting.
- Get your child used to making grocery lists, packing lists, outlining plans and itineraries, or even write walking directions and draw a map.
- Leave a whiteboard up in the kitchen and family room where you can leave notes for each other.
- Play word games like Mad Libs, Magnetic Poetry, Catchphrase and Scrabble.
- Have a poetry, short story, or open mic night. Encourage your family to share written stories, favorite passages, poems and other writing they enjoy.
- Encourage your child to write fictional and nonfictional stories. Set up a private blog amongst friends and family if they’d like. Create storyboards and add stick on notes and revise ideas.
- Take your child to the theatre. Take them to the movies. Teach them how to write dialogue and their own plays and scripts at home. Perform them with the family and dress up in costumes. Film a home movie and have a screening after dinner.
- Discuss personalities, backgrounds and the motivations of people and characters. Make sure they understand psychology and have empathy for others.
- Show your child that writing is fun and therapeutic. Your child should be proud of their expression at the end of the day. Post their work and share it with others.
Disclaimer: This information is for educational purposes only. Please consult your child’s healthcare provider directly for medical advice, diagnoses, and treatments. If you have specific questions or concerns about the health or development of your child, consult your child’s physician.