Promoting Your Child’s Writing Skills
By Dr. Kenneth Shore
Parents play an important role in promoting their children’s writing skills because many schools do not give writing the attention it deserves. Schools which do provide writing instruction often dwell on the more technical aspects. Writing scores on standardized tests may rise with this approach but the quality of the students’ writing may not.
The following suggestions may help foster your child’s writing skills:
- Write down stories your young child tells you. Have him dictate a made-up story to you while you enter it in the computer. Then read it back to him to see if he wants to make changes. You might also have him illustrate the story. After he is finished, staple the pages together to create a book.
- Attend more to the meaning than the mechanics. Be positive and encouraging about his writing and focus more on what he did well than on technical errors. Noting all of your child’s errors is a sure way to turn him off to writing. Pay more attention to the contents, asking questions as a sign of interest.
- Provide opportunities for your child to write. Many magazines for children publish writing by children. One magazine, Stone Soup, is even written entirely by children, ages 8 to 13. There are few things more thrilling for a child than seeing something he has written published. One other opportunity is worthy of special note: having a pen-pal. Your child can obtain a pen-pal through the organization International Pen Friends (http://usa.ipfpenfriends.com).
- Display your child’s work. You might also send something he has written to a relative.
- Take advantage of technology. By fourth or fifth grade, if not before, your child should be able to use a word processing program. He will find that it speeds up the process of writing, provides an easy way of correcting his work, and prints a legible copy. For children with handwriting difficulties, word processing is especially welcome because it allows them to focus on their ideas and not get bogged down with the mechanics of writing.
- Show your child earlier papers to indicate progress. Note the date on the papers your child shows you, put them in a file, and bring them out later in the year to show your child how much progress he has made.
- Give presents related to writing. You should be able to find something from the following list to give to your child for a gift: magnetic alphabet letters, pens or pencils (pencils with your child’s name will be a big hit), pads of paper, pencil sharpener, fancy erasers, personalized stationary, stationary-making kit, label maker, alphabet stamps with pad, dictionary, thesaurus, crossword puzzle book, journal and diary.