Thursday, March 11, 2010

Eight Tips for Developing the Writer in Your Child

The written word is powerful. Most of us encounter it daily, either by reading 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.
  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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 grandma 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? Please share!

photo courtesy public domain pictures

11 comments:

  1. I love your tips. We are big readers in our house. My girls could read all night and I have to make them turn the light off. I am so thankful for that. In the summer, we do journals and incorporate scrapbooking into it. Taking some pictures of an activity, stickers, cute paper.. they scrapbook it up and then write about it. Fun, creative and a keepsake to look back on.

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  2. Nancy,
    Having your children do the scrapbooks is a great idea! My girls have scrapbooked pictures, but rarely write anything about the event. I'll have to make that a part of the activity.

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  3. These are all great suggestions. Another one would be to keep an eye out for events at your local library or bookstores that involve your childrens' favorite authors giving readings, after which they will usually answer questions. (Even if your children are too shy to ask questions themselves, there's value in listening to the Q&A from others.) They may not be doing writing, but they see that it's done by "real people" -- I still remember how impressed I was with the author who visited our school when I was in elementary.

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  4. Okay, I'm confessing that I haven't been to one of these events before - but I'm sure I should have! We'll have to look for readings that are coming to our area. I think our whole family would enjoy attending.

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  5. This post actually sparked a trip down memory lane for me about that elementary school author visit. :)

    http://topaztook.livejournal.com/204060.html

    And, while we haven't done author appearances for our three-year-old yet (although, if Mo Willems is ever in town, we're there), if you ever get a chance to heard author Lorna Landvik speak, I highly recommend her.

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  6. Great tips! My seven-year-old has a huge imagination, so every once in a while I tell him to write me a story, and he sure does.

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  7. Top notch recommendations! I totally agree with you that reading is the foundation. This is proven in educational research.
    I would add something about giving them a format for sharing work via a blog or putting finished products in a fancy notebook/portfolio.

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  8. Hello from Indonesia. I attended a book signing event of a child writer and her parents said the same tips you wrote.

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  9. So nice to hear from Indonesia!! Glad to know that these tips worked for the child writer!

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  10. Great tips! I've loved writing since I was a kid, and just like with any other hobby or skill, it's best to get started early. And reading truly is the key. I can't tell you how many times my history & literature professors told us that the number one key to writing well is to be a reader.

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  11. Great tips. My kids are big readers but not writers. I think I need to stress that more!

    Thanks for linking up with SSO!

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