Writing for the Future
- Monday, March 24, 2008
Teaching writing can be intimidating, especially if you don’t feel like you are a good writer. Here are some tips you can use to encourage your kids to write and polish their communication skills. Grade school, high school—age doesn’t matter; it’s never too late to develop good writing skills. A seventy-year-young gentleman I know took a writing course and got published. You’re never too old to learn!1. Read to Your Kids
Make family reading time a priority, if only once a week. It’s a great way to share quality time together. It provides opportunities for discussion. The benefits of exposure to literature are endless. It broadens perspectives and lends to a sense of adventure. We read the Little House series, biographies, carefully chosen classics, and more. I looked for books that were interesting and relevant to my kids’ lives and studies.
You can often tell which kids have been read to and/or are
readers. Among other things, they sometimes have imaginations that are more
vivid. They have a good sense of what sounds right when writing because they
have been exposed to good literature.
Let your kids see you writing. Even if the only things you write are letters, lesson plans, and grocery lists, you are still writing! Keep writing and encourage the kids to do so too. The more you do it, the more you improve. My husband is a prime example (and a good sport). When we started in business twenty-some years ago, writing a business letter was not his thing. With practice and a little advice, he now writes a professional letter with very little assistance from the editing department (me!).3. Find Writing Projects to do Together
Writing activities in a curriculum are great, but sometimes they don’t spark a student’s creativity. How many of us plodded through the required “What I Did On My Summer Vacation” assignments when we were students? A group project can be more fun.
When it comes to writing, especially for reluctant writers, fun is the key. Engage kids by finding short, interesting activities to start. Projects can be expanded as their skills develop. Try writing a continuing story, silly poetry, or a family newspaper together.
Some kids are great storytellers, but are too young to write it all down. Let them dictate the story while you write or type it on the computer. If they still aren’t crazy about writing it all down as they get older, alternate writing with them—you write some, they write some. This way they get experience and don’t get too dependent on you doing their writing for them!
4. Illustrate it!
Sometimes kids like to draw but don’t like to write. Jump-start imaginations by combining the two. Write a story together, if only a short paragraph, and let them illustrate it. Find a funny picture or remove captions from cartoons and have the kids write about it.
The computer is a good tool to facilitate this. There is software available that kids can use to create artwork, and of course, word processing programs that help kids spot spelling and grammar errors. With a good balance, so as not to get too dependent on spellcheck, this can make writing seem less daunting.
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