Most kids just aren't that into writing, and it shows in their school work through the years. We save our children's cute early writings; but, except for homework assignments, writing isn't a big part of our kids' everyday life at home. So, what can parents do to help their child develop good writing skills during the elementary years?
Start Writing Early
Educational technology advances have taught us that reading and writing development are intertwined in early learning. The physical act of writing letters and early words enhances the child's ability to read. The complementary relationship between reading and writing continues long after these early efforts, so parents enhance their child's skills dramatically by encouraging the writing habit in childhood. Follow the lead of early childhood educators by allowing phonetic writing rather than worrying about proper spelling in preschool and kindergarten. We get a kick out of trying to figure out my five-year-old nephew's writings to grandmother, but he knows just exactly what it says!
Focus on the Building Blocks of Good Writing
A rich language environment is the foundation for good writing. Learn easy ways to build your child language foundation in this article. Games and activities that build vocabulary increase the range of words your child will know to write with depth. Word games are classic and fun for families. Now, you can find fun word games online. We like Wheel of Fortune and, for the little ones, Between the Lions shockwave games.
Checking your child's homework for spelling and punctuation errors will reinforce the skills your child is learning at school. When she has a report to write at home, help her take the time to write a first draft that you can check. Then, mark the spelling, capitalization and punctuation errors for her to correct. Most middle elementary children are able to use a word processing program to write reports. Teach your child to use the spellchecker, perhaps using the Scholastic Keys program for Microsoft Office.
Provide Tools and Opportunities for Writing
Mechanical pencils and gel pens are fun for kids; and plenty of paper, both lined for your child's grade level and unlined, should be available for spontaneous writing play and projects. Cute note cards and stationery make writing letters and notes to friends and relatives a regular writing habit. Let your child write the shopping list before a trip to the store. Encourage journal keeping for special times such as a family trip. If your child has a creative streak, gifts of writing activity books will encourage that talent.
Learn Easy Strategies for Elementary Writing
Jessie Wise and Susan Wise Bauer, authors of The Well-Trained Mind, talk about the two-step writing process for elementary students. The first step is to practice oral composition. First, encourage your child to talk about what he is going to write. The second step is dictation practice. Children learn to put words on paper by copying sentences from books or from story dictaion. This step teaches sentence and paragraph structure.
Julie Bogart at Bravewriter.com offers great tips for helping elementary children develop writing skills. She makes the point that elementary-age children are very poor writers because it takes at least ten years of writing practice to begin to write well! With Bogart's advice in mind, don't be discouraged by your elementary child's lack of writing skill. Encourage practice, build his fund of language, talk and talk about everything, don't be critical of creative writing efforts, and make it fun to encourage a love of writing from an early age.