When I was in Florida this winter we spent time at the home of friends who asked if I’d help their six-year-old daughter write a story to enter in a local writing contest. I was happy to do it and it was lots of fun. Recently her Dad sent me a copy of the final version of the story all illustrated and ready to be sent off to the contest. Naomi, the little girl I worked with, didn’t need much help because she’s very bright and creative and had lots of great ideas for her story. However our writing time together reminded me of some suggestions I’d put together for parents when I taught elementary school. It was a list I supplied when parents asked me for ideas about what they could do to help their child become a better writer.
• Exchange notes with your child. Stick a note in their lunch box. Put a note on their bed. Hide a letter in their school bag. Encourage them to write back to you and leave a note hidden for you somewhere you are sure to find it
• Have them write out a plan for a party or family outing and then carry out the plan
• Ask children to write captions for photographs you are placing in the family album or on your family blog or website
• Have children keep a journal of a trip or holiday or a special time in your family’s life
• Have your child write thank you notes to people who have given them gifts or done kind things for them.
• Encourage them to write and e-mail letters to friends and family.
• Play games like Boggle, Spill and Spell, Scrabble, which help build vocabulary
• Crossword puzzles are also great for adding new words to children’s vocabularies
• Encourage children to look up words they don’t know in an online dictionary
• Have them keep a response or reflection journal when they are reading a book or you are reading a book to them
• Start a blog for your child where they can publish their poetry, stories and other writing pieces
• Take an interest in the written work your child brings home from school- poems, stories, paragraphs on tests. Give praise and encouragement.
• Reading fosters good writing because children are being exposed to the work of good writers when they read and they are constantly learning new vocabulary and gaining new ideas they can use in their own writing.
Finally it is important for your children to see you being a good role model. Your children need to see you writing and observe how writing helps you in your daily life as well as at your place of employment.
Ray Bradbury, the great science fiction author said about writing, “Quantity produces quality.” The more your child writes the better writer they will become.
Other posts about children and writing……