Whether your child aspires to become the next J.K. Rowling or simply wants to communicate effectively through the written word in college and beyond, strong writing skills are a must have. For most students, formal instruction at school will provide the basis of their writing competencies. But there’s also plenty that you can do at home to help your child hone these important skills. And you don’t need a degree in English or a teaching credential to do it! Here are some effective and (yes!) fun ways to sharpen your child’s writing abilities.
Find a Pen Pal
Who doesn’t love receiving snail mail?! It may be a little “old school,” but there’s nothing better than making new friends or keeping in touch with old ones through a written letter. Students write with meaning and a sense of purpose, all while feeling more invested in their writing, because it’s a vehicle to make a personal connection — whether their pen pal is across the globe or around the corner. Add even more creativity to the process when you choose stamps, stationery, and writing supplies together.
Consistently writing in journals allows students to develop and refine their own unique writing styles without the pressures of being graded on mechanics. Instead, they’re able to focus on their thoughts, and develop an appreciation for and a joy of writing. Think outside of the box when it comes to journaling! Encourage your child to create a travel journal and chronicle some of the favorite places they have visited. Or have them start a grandparents journal — a family treasure where your kids and their grandparents take turns adding personal stories and sentiments to an on-going collection. The possibilities are endless!
Create Scrapbooks and Photo Journals
Scrapbooks tell stories, and placing memories on tangible pages with brief descriptions of what’s occurring in photos allows children to tap into their storytelling skills. This exercise enables them to practice planning and execution before putting their grammar and spelling knowledge into practice. Knowing that someone else is likely to see their work, they may be inclined to hone their proofreading skills before sharing it.
Read … and Read Some More!
Reading consistently (especially reading aloud) helps children gain new perspectives and knowledge, and also grasp a better understanding of language and vocabulary. It enables them to better familiarize themselves with how stories are told and how ideas are put together into meaningful works. Writer, film producer, and actor Steven Wright once said, “It usually helps me write by reading — somehow the reading gear in your head turns the writing gear.”
Your child might not be particularly interested in writing a “story,” but he or she may be very intrigued by the prospect of being a “blogger.” Use technology to your advantage by positioning a writing exercise within the context of a blog post. Encourage your child to post about topics of personal interest, such as gaming, baking, sports or music.
Play Vocabulary Games
Children’s writing improves as their vocabulary grows because they have more tools in their verbal toolkit. From gameboard classics like Scattergories and Scrabble to age-appropriate vocabulary apps, kids will grow their lexicons without even realizing it.
Publish Your Child’s Work
There’s nothing quite as satisfying as actually seeing the fruits of your labor! Whether your child is a comic book enthusiast, loves the feel of a brand new book, or wants his or her story to live in the virtual world, consider publishing it! Check out kid-friendly sources like Scribblitt or StoryJumper.
Homemade cards provide a personal way for your child to tap into his or her “inner writer.” Special occasion cards carry personal significance, allowing your budding writer to share from the heart — the wellspring of writing genius. Birthdays, anniversaries and graduations are just some of the occasions which present opportunities to express heartfelt sentiments through the written word.
Do you have any tried and true methods for sharpening your child’s writing skills? Or some of your child’s written words you’d like to share? If so, please leave us a note below.