“If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”
― Stephen King
The modern world revolves around emails and instant messaging platforms, so it is no secret that communicating your thoughts via the written word has become an essential skill to master. However, teaching children how to write is not easy.
Previously, we have covered how to encourage children to write stories and poetry using a simple step-by-step guide. Today, we’ll look at some ideas for teaching children how to express themselves through the written word.
Easy tips to teach children how to write
- Encourage your child to write daily. Writing skill needs to be developed and honed like any other skill. It requires practice. Parents need to encourage their children to write every day. It can be achieved by journaling, or creative writing prompts. Try to reinforce the message that their thoughts and opinions are important and should be shared.
- Make writing materials easily accessible. Keeping blank papers, colourful stationery, and decorative materials around will encourage the child to put pen to paper. While they may not write a masterpiece right away, they will start to scribble their ideas, which is the main goal.
- Don’t stress over initial grammar errors. Writing comes with its set of rules, often known as grammar rules. Writing perfect, grammatically correct sentences can be quite intimidating for young children at first. You can help by asking your child to pen down their thoughts on paper and then edit the text to perfection.
- Read together to interpret a writer’s thoughts. As children read books, newspapers, or any other written material, you may help them grasp the writer’s intended meaning by asking questions about sentence structure, vocabulary, and other elements. Find out why a writer used a certain phrase or word to explain an idea and how it changed the text. This will help the child think like a writer and enhance their reading comprehension.
- Explain the importance of reading aloud. Let the child know that reading out loud what one has written is a great way to eliminate inconsistencies and improve the writing. Parents can initially demonstrate reading aloud for their children. You could also make a list of questions that your child can ask themselves while reading their draft – Why did the writer use X word instead of other words, why has the writer described the story in this way, or what more could be added or removed? etc.
- Create an idea journal. Another way to motivate your child to write more often is to get them to note all their excellent ideas in a journal. You can also use a family idea jar where everyone can put their ideas. Once a week, you can have a brainstorming session with the family members, especially children, to brainstorm ideas like what if our house could fly, what monsters do on holiday, an ideal day for the house pet, etc. It will also motivate the child to dig deeper into their thoughts.
- Get the child to rewrite their favourite stories or non-fiction text. Another fun way to make writing less intimidating is to rewrite a story with your child’s unique touch to it. It will reinforce the message that there are different ways of saying the same thing and that anyone can write with proper practice. It can be the go-to fun writing activity.
- Have a ‘notes day’ every week. Celebrate a writing day that requires everybody at home to communicate only via written words. It will help children see the function of writing and think carefully about the message they want to share.
Writing skills require patience and practice to master. Know that some children might find it easier to write than others. Let your child know that it takes time and effort to write elegantly. Don’t forget to celebrate little accomplishments along the way.
Have you tried any of these tips before? Have they worked for your child? Let us know in the comments below.
- Westkott, P. V., Johnson, K. L. (2005). Writing Like Writers: Guiding Elementary Children Through a Writer’s Workshop. United Kingdom: Prufrock Press.
- Leonhardt, M. (2010). 99 Ways to Get Kids to Love Writing: And 10 Easy Tips for Teaching Them Grammar. United States: Crown.