Developing Writing at Home
Ideas for parents: how to help your child become a stronger writer
Before getting started
|Provide a place|
It's important for your child to have a good place to write, such as a desk or table with a smooth, flat surface. It's also crucial to have good lighting
|Provide the materials|
Provide plenty of paper (lined and unlined) and things to write with, including pencils, pens, and crayons.
Talk with your child as much as possible about her ideas and impressions, and encourage her to describe people and events to you.
Activities for young children
Encourage the child to draw and to discuss her drawings
|Ask your child to tell you simple stories as you write them down|
Copy the story as your child tells it, without making changes. Ask them to clarify anything you don't understand.
|Encourage your child to write their name|
Practice writing their name with them, and point out the letters in their name when you see them in other places (on signs, in stores, etc.). They may start by only writing the first few letters of their name, but soon the rest will follow.
There are numerous games and puzzles that help children with spelling while increasing their vocabulary. Some of these may include crossword puzzles, word games, anagrams designed especially for children. Flash cards are fun to use too, and they're easy to make at home.
Turn your child's writing into books
|Make sure your child sees you writing|
Theywill learn about writing by watching you write. Talk with them about your writing so that they begin to understand why writing is important and the many ways it can be used.
|Encourage your child to write, even if they are scribbling|
Give your child opportunities to practice writing by helping them sign birthday cards, write stories, and make lists
|As your child gets older, write together|
Have your child help you with the writing you do, including writing letters, shopping lists, and messages
Encourage your child to take notes on trips or outings, and to describe what they saw. This could include a description of nature walks, a boat ride, a car trip, or other events that lend themselves to note-taking
If your child likes a particular song, suggest that they learn the words by writing them down. Also encourage copying favorite poems or quotations from books and plays.
|Encourage your child to read their stories out loud|
As your child gets older, ask them to share their stories with you. Listen carefully without interrupting, and give them positive feedback about their ideas and their writing.
Hang a family message board in the kitchen
|Help your child write letters and emails to relatives and friends|
These may include thank you notes or just a special note to say hello. Be sure to send your child a letter or card once in awhile too so that they are reminded of how special it is to get a letter in the mail. Consider finding a pen pal for your child.
Encourage keeping a journal
Things to remember
Help your child spend time thinking about a writing project or exercise. Good writers often spend a lot of time thinking, preparing, and researching before starting to write. Your child may dawdle, sharpen a pencil, get papers ready, or look up the spelling of a word. Be patient — this may all be part of their preparation.
|Respond to your child's writing|
Respond to the ideas your child expresses verbally or in writing. Make it clear that you are interested in what the writing says, which means focusing on "what" the child has written rather than "how" it was written. It's usually wise to ignore minor errors, particularly at the stage when your child is just getting ideas together.
|Praise your child's writing|
Take a positive approach and find good things to say about your child's writing. Is it accurate? Descriptive? Original? Creative? Thoughtful? Interesting?
|Avoid writing for your child|
Allow them ownership of their own pieces of writing, even though it is tempting to show off a final beautiful piece.
|Help your child with her writing as they get older|
Ask your child questions that will help them to clarify the details of their stories and assignments as they get longer, and help her organise her thoughts. Talk about the objective of what they are writing.
|Provide your child with spelling help when they are ready for it|
When your child is just learning how to read and write, they may try different ways to write and spell. Your job is to encourage our children's writing so they will enjoy putting their thoughts and ideas on paper. At first, your child may begin to write words the way that they hear them. For example, they might write "haf" instead of "have", "frn" instead of "friend", and "Frd" instead of "Fred." This actually is a positive step in developing their phonemic awareness. Keep practicing with them, and model the correct spelling of words when you write. As your child gets older and begins to ask more questions about letters and spelling, provide them with the help they need.
|Practise, practise, practise|
Writing well takes lots of practice, so make sure your child doesn't get discouraged too easily. It's not easy! Give them plenty of opportunities to practice so that they have the opportunity to improve.