The written word is powerful. We encounter it daily, whether in a book, a blog, an e-mail from a friend, or a billboard along the highway. Whether or not our children pursue writing as a career, we as parents can begin fostering strong writing skills early in their lives.
Here are eight tips for developing the writer in your child.
- Read well-written books. I believe that children who read have a head start on writing because they’re exposed to proper grammar and sentence structure, expand their vocabulary through learning unfamiliar words, and get the sense of how a story should flow. Begin by reading aloud to your children on a consistent basis when they are young. Once they are reading to themselves, make a wide range of books available to them.
- Develop their imagination. Encourage them in their preferred forms of pretend play. Even before they can pen words, they are creating story lines in their minds.
- Write for them before they can write for themselves. Have them draw a picture, then ask them to describe what is happening in the scene. Condense their answer into a couple of sentences and write them down, either on the same or a separate sheet of paper.
- Use correct English when you speak. I tend to slur the endings of “-ing” words and I’m certain that most of us use slang occasionally. Nevertheless, if your children hear language used properly, it will be easier for them to write correctly.
- Let them write about a topic they love. Anything from princesses to dinosaurs to super heroes is fair game. Occasionally, writing a song or a poem may interest them more than attempting a story.
- Buy them a diary or a journal. Even if they only use it sporadically, it’s another way to practice writing and, in addition, will be a wonderful keepsake.
- Keep necessary instruments handy. Once they’ve moved past the age where the threat of pen marks on the walls or furniture has lessened, have paper, pencils and pens within their reach. One of my daughters enjoys writing in notebooks that I get at the dollar store.
- Praise liberally. Whether they write a joke or a short story, make a big deal about their effort. Let them read it aloud to the family, make a copy to send to grandparents, or post it on the refrigerator door.
The ability to communicate effectively through writing is a life skill that will be used in a variety of ways. Let’s help our children develop this ability while they’re young.
Do you have any other tips for helping children learn to write well