Have you ever seen that Grammarly ad on YouTube? The one that emphasizes how important writing skills are? While I have been interrupted and highly annoyed by it at least half-a-hundred times, it does have a point. We should all focus on improving our writing skills at some time or another. Even as adults. However, our children are the ones who can benefit from giving them a boost – being able to write easily, effortlessly, in different styles and on different subjects makes all kinds of aspects of life more enjoyable and less stressful.
From kindergarten to university and beyond, writing is a skill that will never let you down – I should know, I’ve turned it into a career and have firmly stuck to it as a hobby as well. Let’s look at 10 ways you can help your child improve their own writing skills:
Start by reading
I am the biggest believer in the fact that children who read a lot are better writers. I am basing this opinion partly on myself, an avid reader since age 4, and the experiences of my fellow mums – reading more helps.
It develops vocabulary and helps enforce grammar rules more subtly, and can also serve as an incredible source of inspiration.
Try out different styles
Everyone gets bored of doing the same kind of thing over again, so adding in some variety to your child’s writing routine can make all the difference.
Try doing fairy stories, adventures stories, biographies, journals, book reviews, interviews, memoirs – with as much or as little guidance and prompts as your child requires.
Write your own stories
When my older daughter was 7 and my younger 5, we started what is now our favorite family tradition: storybook writing. The idea was that my older daughter and myself would write and illustrate the stories my husband would then read to our youngest on Sunday nights.
Today they work on the storybooks together, and they are my absolute favorite family heirloom by far – I expect they will get tired of them at some point, but I can’t wait to see their faces when we come back to them when they are in their twenties.
Keeping a private journal is also a great way to encourage more writing. It instills a daily habit of putting words to paper, but it is also a great mindfulness habit to have as you get older.
You can do family journals as well, where each person does a few sentences each day – a great keepsake and memory trove!
Use writing worksheets
When all else fails, I love to turn to a worksheet. These were shown us by my younger daughter’s teacher, and we have been reaching for them a lot (especially during our lockdown stint in homeschooling).
Worksheets are great because they have been designed specifically for a certain age and skillset, so they save you the trouble of having to come up with your own writing topics as prompts.
No one seems to be writing letters anymore, even though they used to be such a bringer of joy.
You can easily change that by encouraging your child to write letters with you. Family members, friends, even members of your own household would love to receive a letter.
You can tie letters to specific holidays and important dates: birthdays, Christmas, the start of the summer holidays. Or you can just write them on a rainy Saturday morning for no other reason than to get your pens out.
Let them type too
While I am by absolutely no means advocating replacing pen and paper with a keyboard, you shouldn’t forget that your child will need to spend a whole lot of time typing during their lifetime, so teaching them how to type accurately and well is another aspect of writing you should bear in mind.
Turn autocorrect off, and instead let the software underline misspelled words – that way you can go over any edits and changes together, talk about them and thus help your child commit them to memory.
Buy nice stationary
Sometimes all it takes to encourage your child to write more is to get them some personal and very neat stationary. The choices are literally endless, but something personalized with their own name on it can often produce the desired results.
Take them stationary shopping with you and let them pick out all manner of colorful pens and pencils – they will be super eager to get home and put them to good use.
Retention is improved by writing things down, and when you copy passages from a book, or even your own notes, you are boosting your chances of remembering and storing the information at hand.
It also helps practice your writing.
Encourage your child to copy out their favorite passages from books, the lessons they need to learn, sentences they like from movies or cartoons.
You can create a scrapbook for different topics and create your own collection of witticisms or wisdom.
Provide feedback and help
Finally, don’t forget to provide help if and when needed. Don’t offer to do the assignment for your child – but do be on hand to help with spelling, finding the right word, or solving a difficult grammar conundrum.
Offer praise and feedback for every piece of writing if possible. Don’t just say things like “it’s great” or “well done”, especially when there are actual errors to be fixed. Highlight the best parts and praise the effort, but also make sure you catch all the mistakes and work on correcting them.
Offering actual insight – “I like how you phrased this” or “I love the way this sentence sounds” – will be your best ally.
Before we part ways
I hope some of these tips will help your kids become better writers, keener readers, and that you will spend plenty of time enjoying the magic of words together.