Good writing skills are essential to success in one’s career and in life. Your child will be more likely to perform better in school if he or she has good writing skills. Then when the time comes for your child to find a job, he or she will need good writing skills to prepare effective resumes, business letters, and reports.
What can we do to help our children develop writing skills? Here are some ideas:
1. Read to Your Child – Interactively
Most parents know that reading to your child is important for developing all language skills, including writing. But research shows something interesting: how you read to your child matters.
It’s good to read often and to read quality books, but studies show it’s equally important to allow the child to participate in some way. For example, you can let your non-reader participate asking your child questions about the story as you read, pointing out objects in the book’s illustrations and asking your child to name them, or having your child re-tell the story (or portions of it) in their own words.
2. Give Easy Access to Writing Materials
Encourage your child to write by having paper, markers, pencils, crayons, and so forth handy. For paper, you can use both lined and unlined. I keep used paper around so my children can draw and write on the unprinted side. A well-lit table or other level surface should be available all the time. My son loves his own drawing and writing desk. It looks similar to this:
3. Talk about Drawings
Attach words to images. Ask children to describe their drawings by asking specific questions. See if he will tell you a story about the picture, or if he will draw other pictures to illustrate progressive action. My son also adds thought and speech bubbles in his drawings, as well as titles, labels, and other texts.
4. Comic Strips
Reading the comics is a great way to get your child to read from left to right. The colorful, fun images and easy-to-read lettering tend to appeal to children, too. My Mom says I learned to read by reading my babysitter’s comic books. I have yet to verify this story, but that’s what she says!
Type or write while your child tells the story. Ask him or her to come up with a story about a pet, drawing, friend, family member, place, or whatever interests her. Then write it down and read it together. If she hasn’t illustrated it, ask her to draw some pictures about the story.
6. Include Your Child in Everyday Writing
Let your child write something on the grocery list, or sign birthday cards. She can write down chores on a list, too. A dry-erase board is great for this.
7. Play Writing Games
Play games with your child that require her to write. If you have a pretend store set up, she can write the price stickers. Set up a restaurant at home and have your child make the menu. Is your child interested in roads and highways? She can make road signs for the hallways and rooms. Sometimes during movie night, my younger kids create their own movie tickets and stubs for snacks and drinks. Get creative, and your children won’t even realize they’re learning how to write!
With a little creativity, you may just have a budding writer on your hands! With a home environment that encourages writing, your child will do better in school, work, and life.
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