Developing Strong Writers
Let's be frank, writing is a difficult skill to learn, let alone master. Yet, it is important to help your children develop writing skills at an early age. Here are some reasons why writing is an important skill for people of all ages:
Every day, we need to write in order to complete our tasks, whether we are filling out a form at the doctor's office or writing an important letter. These tasks require us to write clearly, and organize information effectively to avoid misinforming and legal problems.
Education Whether your kids are writing by hand or on the computer, many assignments and exams require them to write short answers or longer essays as a way of assessing what they have learned. In addition, many colleges and universities require students to write essays as part of their admissions application.
Job Employees in many kinds of jobs are required to write on a daily basis. Perhaps they are taking phone messages or writing research reports and newspaper articles. Whatever the task, their ability to do their job well may depend on their ability to write.
Outlet Many young people find writing to be therapeutic, and a helpful way to express feelings that cannot be expressed so easily by speaking.
Remember how we started off talking about how difficult writing can be? Writing can be as difficult a subject to teach and assess as it is to learn. Many young learners have trouble writing with clarity, coherence, and organization, and this can discourage them from writing if they feel frustrated.
That's where you come in - parents involvement can make a big difference. Encouraging your children to develop strong writing skills at a young age, and to become a better writer as they get older, can have a lifelong positive impact on their writing, and may make writing an easier and more enjoyable process for them.
Now to get you started, here are some ideas of things you can do to help your child become a stronger writer:
Show interest in their drawings
"What is the boy doing?" "Does the house look like ours?" "Can you tell a story about this picture?" Ask questions about the things your child says, draws, and may try to write.
Create simple stories Copy the story as your child tells it, without making changes. Ask her to clarify anything you don't understand.
Encourage your child to write her name Practice writing their names with them, and point out the letters in their names when you see them in other places (on signs, in stores, etc.). They may start by only writing the first few letters of their names, but soon the rest will follow.
Use games There are numerous games and puzzles that help children with spelling while increasing their vocabulary. Some of these may include crossword puzzles, word games, anagrams, and cryptograms designed especially for children.
Book it Paste the drawings and writings on pieces of construction paper. For each book, make a cover out of heavier paper or cardboard, and add special art, a title, and his or her name as author.
Remember this. Help your child spend time thinking about a writing project or exercise. Good writers often spend a lot of time thinking, preparing, and researching before starting to write. Just be patient. Respond to the ideas your child expresses verbally or in writing. Make it clear that you are interested in what the writing conveys, which means focusing on "what" the child has written rather than "how" it was written. Praise the kid from time to time.
Do not write for your child. Don't write a paper for your child that will be turned in as her work, and don't rewrite your child's work. Meeting a writing deadline, taking responsibility for the finished product, and feeling ownership of it are also important parts of the writing process. Instead, ask your child questions that will help clarify the details of the stories and assignments. Our job is to encourage our children's writing so they will enjoy putting their thoughts and ideas on paper. Writing well takes lots of practice, and again, it's not easy! Give them plenty of opportunities to practice so that they have the opportunity to improve.
Your efforts now will make a difference — and it may be just the difference that your child needs to succeed!
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