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 so many 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’m basing this partly on myself, an avid reader since age 4, and the experiences of my fellow moms.
Reading develops vocabulary and helps enforce grammar rules more subtly. It can also serve as an incredible source of inspiration.
Try out different styles
Everyone gets bored doing the same thing over and over again, so adding some variety to your child’s writing routine can make all the difference.
Try creating fairy stories, adventure 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 I would write and illustrate the stories. Then my husband would read them to our youngest on Sunday nights.
Today they work on the storybooks together, and they are my absolute favorite family heirloom. 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. It makes a great keepsake and memory trove!
Use writing worksheets
When all else fails, I love to turn to a worksheet. These were shared with us by my younger daughter’s teacher. We’ve 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 skill set, so they save you the trouble of having to come up with your own writing prompts.
No one seems to be writing letters anymore, even though they bring such joy to the recipients.
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 like birthdays, Christmas, or the start of the summer holidays. You can also 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 your child will spend a 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 auto-correct off, and instead let the software underline misspelled words. That way you can go over any edits and changes together, talk about them, and help your child commit them to memory.
Buy nice stationery
Sometimes all it takes to encourage your child to write more is to get them some personalized or fun stationery. The choices are literally endless, but something with their own name or a character they love on it may produce the desired results.
Take them stationery shopping with you and let them pick out colorful pens and pencils. They’ll be super eager to get home and start writing with them!
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 to practice writing — and it doesn’t matter what it is. Just write!
Encourage your child to copy their favorite passages from books, the lessons they need to learn, even quotes 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 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 the mistakes and work on correcting them.
Offering actual insight such as “I like how you phrased this” or “I love the way this sentence sounds” will be your best ally.
I hope some of these tips will help your kids become better writers, keener readers, and you will spend plenty of time enjoying the magic of words together.