Writing is one of the greatest inventions of humankind. As our civilisation and our ideas become increasingly complex, writing as a skill is becoming more and more critical. Your writing skills could mean the difference between a successful life and an unsuccessful, unsatisfactory life. Hence, it is worthwhile to teach your children how to express themselves effectively in writing. This article presents some time-tested tips to help your child with their writing skills.
Appreciate good writing
Your children must know that you appreciate and respect good writing. This should come across in speech in the form of appreciation for a good book or a good writer. If you discuss the nuances of stories and articles at home, they will pick up the cue that writing is an activity that attracts appreciation and respect. This is one of the greatest motivators to write.
Read often, read good
The vocabulary, structures, ideas, and inspirations that go into writing originate in the writings of others. Whether a book or magazine or e-reader, you must read yourself, read to your child, and encourage your child to read. Buy them age-appropriate books to read and build them a bookshelf. Surround them with good-quality literature from where they can pick up good writing.
Model writing behaviour
Let your children see you write often—from to-do lists to greeting cards to e-mails, reports, and your personal diary. If you write daily, they will feel that writing is something that should be done and imitate you by writing themselves.
Scribbling is good
From an early age, encourage your child to draw, scribble, and write using crayons or sketch pens or pencils. Do not discourage them from writing gibberish. The act of holding a writing device and creating symbols on a medium, be it paper or the wall, is the fundamental act behind writing.
Encourage letter writing
Set up a letter-writing arrangement between your child and a friend or relative. Incentivise them to write letters to each other occasionally instead of texting. Show them how to write letters. Have your home stocked with postcards, inland letters, envelopes, and stamps. As a further nudge, take your child to the post office and help her/him build a stamp collection.
Keep a diary
Introduce your children to the beautiful world of diary writing. If you keep a personal diary yourself, show it to your children, and let them read entries that you think they can. Help them buy a diary of their own, show them how to make diary entries, and also tell them that, if they wish, they can keep it secret from you, so that they are encouraged to write their innermost thoughts at length.
Build a writing ritual
Set apart half an hour every day for diary writing and a day every week when your child can write letters and postcards. Don’t just schedule it; make it fun by attaching their favourite snacks to the activity. A ritual helps habit formation and provides the mental fuel for writing.
Create a writing space
Create a writing corner in your house with a writing desk, pens, pencils, and paper sheets of various colours, postcards and envelopes, stamps and glue, and other stationery. Make sure that it is well lit, colourful, neat, and is surrounded by books. Creating a space dedicated to writing gives the activity a sense of importance and helps your child get into a frame of mind that helps focus on writing.
Give feedback and appreciation
If you wish that your children improve their writing, then you must be continuously involved in their writing activity. That means that you must buy them books to read, teach them how to frame sentences and compose a piece, give them feedback on what they have written, and most importantly, appreciate their efforts and output so that they are motivated to write.
Writing by copying
If your child loves certain songs or books or movie dialogues, ask them to copy their lyrics or script on paper. This activity will not only keep them interested, but it will also help them learn the structures of language and develop their vocabulary. Furthermore, it will help them create and hold in their minds ideas that span more than a few sentences.
Word games are fun!
Get a scrabble board for full family fun and buy age-appropriate crossword books. Both games are extremely helpful in building vocabulary and developing advanced thinking skills. The gamification of a learning experience challenges your child to improve her/his skills faster and better than regular schoolwork. Not only do they learn new skills and ideas, but they also feel a sense of achievement and pride.
Adapt technology to writing
These days you cannot keep your children insulated from laptops and mobile phones. Adapt these devices to writing by teaching your child various word processing applications and word games that will help them improve their writing skills. Teach them to compose and type e-mails. But focus on the activity and not the medium. The activity is to put your thoughts into words. Whether that is done on paper or screen should not matter.
Use your child’s interests
Is there a book or a movie that your child loves? Are there characters that she/he adores? Is there a sport that she/he is passionate about? Link these aspects of her/his life to writing by giving her/him writing prompts designed around her/his passions. How about narrating an incident from a game? Is there a fan fiction he/she would like to write around the character he/she loves? Use such ideas to get your child started on a piece.
There can be dozens of techniques in which your child can be encouraged to write and to become a better writer—just make writing a priority and use your imagination to design exciting ways to indulge in writing.