6 Ways to Help Build Strong Writers
Writing can be a challenge, even for the best of students. For some it is a laborious task that provides little enjoyment. For others, it’s an opportunity to be expressive and creative with words. How do you help your child to be one who enjoys writing? Here are 6 ways to help build strong writers.
1. Foster a love of reading
The best writers are those who also love to read. Reading helps children experience a variety of writing styles, the creative use of words and different kinds of texts. By helping your child to enjoy reading and getting them hooked on the habit of sitting down with a book, you’re helping them to develop an appreciation for the written word. Over time, the desire to imitate what they read will develop.
2. Provide different opportunities for writing
Throughout schooling there will be some times that children will be asked to write on specific topics or using different formats, but there will be others during which your child may choose what to write. At home you can encourage the same ideas. Some fun ideas include wipe-clean books (great for both home, while running errands, and traveling), and finger painting just to name a couple.
In early writing, you may have your children “help” you write a grocery shopping list, sounding out the words as you go. You might have them write thank you notes for gifts received. Those would be writing for given tasks. Allowing them to write whatever they would like by giving them their own journals, however, would help them to also write for enjoyment.
3. Talk about different kinds of writing
As you read together, talk about the different kinds of writing that you’ve read. Explore fiction and nonfiction, poetry and plays and talk about each kind. By talking about writing styles, your child will see a wider variety of examples that he may want to try.
4. Practice writing together
Remember how much fun writing stories together was when you were a kid? How about doing MadLibs together? Much of the fun was creating something with a friend. Now that you’re all grown-up, you can teach your child the same fun. Using a notebook, begin a story and take turns each adding a few sentences. You will both have a great time developing a silly story together while practicing the art of fiction writing.
For a more serious writing together experience, consider writing favorite recipes together or writing about a topic that you both enjoy. The act of writing together shows your child that the skill is important to you while modeling ways that it can be enjoyed.
5. Focus on correct grammar (rather than text language)
In a day where much of our written communication is in shorthand (texting) it is important to help your child learn correct spelling and sentence structure. Checking over homework or writing together will help your child to learn these skills and differentiate between the kind of language that we use when texting a friend versus that used to write an essay for school.
6. Encourage your child (and collect favorite work)
Writing is a very personal form of expression. When communicating ideas in written form, a child is practicing their craft and is learning to fine-tune it. Encouraging your child in his work and offering constructive criticism (gently) will help him to become more confident in himself and his abilities. Keeping some favorite written pieces for posterity will also help him see how much you value the writing that he does and will encourage him to keep going.
Do you have other ways to help build strong writers? Please share your ideas!