Parents of struggling learners often cite writing as one of the biggest problem areas for their kids at school. For these children, class learning isn’t always enough, and many parents decide to put in some extra time and effort for at-home learning. While the school setting is the primary place for kids to learn, it’s also important that students explore and reinforce learned material when they leave the classroom and return home. Strategies for improving writing skills with your child can be fun, so long as you help your child find interesting topics to explore, and offer exciting ways to invigorate the writing process. Read on for our tips and strategies to find out some simple solutions for improving writing skills at home.
How to Improve Kids’ Writing Skills at Home:
1.) Start a blog together. There are free, simple options like Blogger, Tumblr and WordPress where setting up a blog is a one step process. Think of it as a way to give your child creative freedom with what he writes. He can treat it as a travelogue, a heavily captioned photo gallery, or a place where he can share his musical, literary, and athletic influences. Encourage kids to import relevant pictures or videos to their site to coincide with their written content. A day at the beach can turn into a reflective piece, which incorporates multimedia with their musings on tides, the weather, and other thoughts and ideas. Blogs are highly social, too — so be sure to talk to your child about what he wants to share with the larger blogging community. Of course, any post can be kept private, but encourage your kid to take inspiration from other blogs, as well as sharing the posts he feels comfortable with.
2. Take note. Download a note-taking app like SimpleNote with your child. Though the name implies that the app’s primary use is for jotting down notes and reminders, it can also be used as an expository writing platform. Apps like these are not as robust as the more highly-functional blogs, but still offer a place to write down thoughts and ideas on-the-go. All content is saved upon entry, so nothing worthwhile will ever be lost. If your kids has to write an essay for a class, note-taking apps can be a place where the brainstorming process can flourish. From starting a first paragraph, or coming up with a solid lead or thesis, note-taking apps can break down larger writing assignments into smaller steps, letting kids work out their ideas piece by piece.
3.) Make dinner time learning time. Having family dinner time has been proven to make kids more open and self-aware individuals. After a informal dinner conversation between you and your child, push for a post-dinner writing exercise. Was there something that really struck you or your child from the conversation? Was there something unclear? Write with your child about the same point for a few minutes. Talk about how each of you interpreted the issue, as well as any similarities or differences. Be creative, and always seek out different alternatives on how to improve kids’ writing skills through group activities with the family. Another example would be working together to tell a story, with each member of the family writing one page before another continues the tale.
4.) Practice short-form reading. Practice being concise. Read the newspaper with your child, obviously choosing the appropriate stories based on your kid’s current reading level. The most enticing part of the paper are the pictures and headlines. Consider events that occurred throughout the day and ask your child to try and write headlines for them, emulating the form that was used in the print or digital paper. Not only will it help your child take into account the main idea, but this exercise will help him to convey a message without being verbose or wordy.
5.) Build grammar and vocabulary. Grammar, spelling and vocabulary are integral pieces of the writing puzzle. They provide clarity to a sentence, as sentences improperly punctuated sometimes force readers to lose sight of what the writer was trying to say. While there are some helpful apps on the market like Grammar Girl, work with your child to come up with some of your own grammar games. Learning can take place in many environments, but it is probably best when your child it at ease and in company he or she feels most comfortable in. However, if a parent is overly critical, it can make it difficult for a child to be candid and honest. Ask your child to write a sentence that you dictate. It is up to your child to punctuate it correctly. At first use verbal cues (like a pause) to indicate where punctuation should be applied. Later on in the activity, speak quickly, so your child will not be able to pick up on the verbal cues, leaving it up to him or her to insert punctuation as they see fit. Even something as simple as a game of Scabble or Words with Friends can help practice their spelling, so why not take a look at some of our favorite spelling games for kids?