Writing is a critical part of a child’s learning, education, and overall development. Unfortunately, with the world being so technology-driven today, kids don’t necessarily have the opportunities to improve on their writing skills that they once did. Parents often want to help their kids work on their writing skills supplementarily and outside of school, but they aren’t sure where to start.
The following are seven ways you can help your child be a better writer.
1. Make It Fun
There are a lot of ways to make writing more fun for your kids, including using a program like Night Zookeeper, which is the first gamified writing program for kids in the world. If you go with this option, it offers thousands of games, all geared toward helping spark creativity and boost writing ability. There are games for improving spelling and vocabulary, puzzles and challenges for structure skills and grammar, and inspirational prompts and story creation lessons to stir the imagination of your child.
If you don’t use a gamified program, there are still ways to make writing fun. Let your child explore the furthest reaches of their imagination when they’re writing. For example, maybe they like to make comics rather than writing in a more traditional format, but that still allows them to develop their skills.
2. Have Them Write a Convince Me Letter
Writing is something that isn’t just about that one particular skill. When kids become good writers, it also means they’re probably good thinkers. They can be persuasive and think through things, which are skills that are going to translate to so many areas of their lives.
As part of this, a good writing exercise for kids is to have them write “convince me” letters. If they want something, like a new game or to stay up later, have them write you a persuasive letter that outlines why you should let them do it or have it. Of course, you don’t have to say yes, but your child is honing in on key writing skills and backing up their argument with logic, facts, and quotes.
When kids write convincing letters, you have them apply writing to their daily lives in a way that matters to them. Along with these letters, there are other ways you can make writing matter. For example, maybe you have them write their birthday cards or letters to their friends. It helps them see the relevance of writing outside of just completing school assignments.
3. Encourage Your Kids to Work Hard
There’s a tendency to think that if you’re a good writer, it comes naturally to you. You might hold the misconception that writing is something that you can’t necessarily develop in terms of a specific skill set or that if someone is good at it, it’s easy for them. These concepts aren’t the reality.
Children may also think they should only do things that come easily to them. You should reinforce the idea that working hard is important, and just because you have to do it doesn’t mean that you’re bad at something.
Writing can be hard even for people who do it professionally, and that’s okay.
4. Focus on Thoughts First
A lot of kids have a hard time with writing because they’re worried too much about things like spelling, grammar, and handwriting. Yes, these things are important too, but you want your child to learn foundationally that communicating their thoughts is what’s important for writing. Focus on teaching your kids how to express themselves, and then you can work on refining their writing later.
For example, if your child is spelling words in their own way, that’s okay at first. They should be encouraged to write down all of their thoughts first and foremost, and then they can go back and figure out how to fix their mechanical mistakes.
Speaking of mistakes, when you’re helping your child be a better writer, they also need to recognize that making mistakes is okay and it’s going to be inevitable along the way.
You want your child to learn the value of recognizing their mistakes and revising their work, rather than only focusing on the fact they made a mistake in the first place.
5. Use a Journal Jar
A journal jar is a fun idea that you can do with your kids. You can take a jar that you have around the house, clean it out, and then you can write down some journal prompts on pieces of paper.
Have your child pull out a prompt each day and then write about whatever it is in their journal. Make the prompts fun and easy.
6. Prioritize Storytelling
Telling stories and hearing them is a critical component of building writing, thinking, and vocabulary skills. Your kids can learn a lot about being a good writer from what they hear orally. For example, you can tell them stories out loud, read to them, or let them listen to age-appropriate audiobooks and podcasts. These are all ways to absorb literature and language for kids. You can then talk through these things with them, so they can learn more about summarizing what they’ve heard and analyzing it.
As you’re talking to your kids about what they hear in terms of storytelling, you want to ask open-ended questions.
You can also encourage your kids to tell you stories. For example, have your kids play the “tell me how” game. In this game, you ask your kids how they would do a certain thing. This could be anything from a task they actually need to do to something more outlandish and fun. You can have them explain the instructions step-by-step and then write them down. You can then go over them and explore what might have been left out.
7. Create a Writing Space
Finally, a fun way to encourage your child to explore writing is to create a space for it. Have a little nook or corner that’s exclusively for writing. You can add a little desk and some writing supplies. Your child will feel like it’s their special area where they can go to record their thoughts free of distractions.