Does your child grumble when they're asked to write something? I wish that I could put into words the pained faces I get from my students when they're asked to write something during tutoring. They look a little something like this:
Though the grumbles make homework time extra difficult, it is understandable why kids get stressed about writing. A lot of effort goes into writing- especially by hand. Students must master handwriting, spacing, spelling, sentence structure and getting their thoughts down on paper in order to write proficiently. If your child is a perfectionist, or has had experiences with a perfectionist teacher, this can also add to their anxiety.
Writing, like all other school subjects, takes lots of practice to perfect. Though students should be practicing and perfecting writing during school hours, a little extra guidance and practice at home can go a long way in improve writing skills and mindset.
Looking to give your child a little boost to their writing skills? Try these five writing activities at home and watch your child's writing abilities soar.
1. Have your child help create lists.
Grocery lists, to-do lists or lists of guests invited to a party - any list will do. Enlist the help of your child in preparing lists regularly. List making will help improve your child's spelling and handwriting. If you want to take it a step further, you can challenge your child to use the best print or cursive writing that they have ever used.
2. Write with your child.
We often talk about the importance of reading with your child, but sometimes we overlook the benefit of writing with your child. Create a shared journal that you and your child can write back in forth in. Sit down and write a story together while switching who writes each sentence. Write a family history or a fairy tale featuring the members of your family. The possibilities are endless! Shared writing will give your child warm and fuzzy memories of the writing experience while also sharpening their skills.
3. Encourage letter and note writing.
Do you remember writing notes to your friends in class? When I was in school, we tried to perfect our handwriting so that we could have the best notes to pass to our friends. Though this was against school rules, I think this had a very positive effect on my ability to write concise notes with excellent handwriting. Encourage your child to write notes and letters to family members or friends. You may even decide to set up a pen pal for your child who lives in a different state or country. The excitement of writing a letter and waiting for the reply will keep your child excited about writing.
4. Read amazing writing.
Okay, so this isn't writing...but it will help your child improve their writing. Children who read often have bigger vocabularies and are often able to express themselves better than children who don't read often. Reading books, poems, or short stories with great examples of writing will encourage your child to up their writing game.
Want to take it a step further? Read a well written story or informational text and then challenge your child to write a piece mimicking the writing style of the author.
5. Point out when you use your writing skills.
I was surprised when some of my students told me they didn't think they would use their writing skills when they grew up. I actually had to pick my jaw up off the floor. I had heard kids make this complaint about math...but writing? For me, this highlighted the importance of demonstrating everyday writing to children. I often tell my students about the ways I must use my writing skills every day. When you find yourself using your writing skills when writing an email, a note to school, a blog post or a work proposal, point out what you are doing to your child and have a discussion about how you keep your writing skills sharp.
Hopefully after lots of fun and meaningful writing practice and home and school, your child will look a little less pained when facing a writing task. Maybe they will even look like this:
What is your favorite way to practice writing with your child? I would love to hear about it in the comments!
If your child needs personalized writing support, I would love to help them gain writing skills and confidence. Click here to schedule a free online tutoring trial session with me.