Written by contributor Jennifer of Blogging ‘Bout Boys
Are you worried about your kids’ writing skills? Most homeschool parents are. A quick Google search of “writing” and “homeschool” returns over 7 MILLION results! That’s a lot of parents who are looking for help.
But writing doesn’t have to be an intimidating subject. Writing is simply a form of communication.
If you want your kids to be good writers (and who doesn’t?), don’t worry about spelling, grammar and punctuation — at least not when they’re young. Instead:
Read aloud to your children, each and every day. Don’t be afraid to read complex material. In fact, it’s best if the stories you read aloud are more advanced than the material your child can read independently.
When kids listen to challenging literature, they pick up the subtleties of good writing — sentence structure, vocabulary, word choice, pacing, plot and character development. Kids who hear good writing begin to develop an intuitive understanding of how to craft sentences, paragraphs and stories.
Many young children, especially young boys, struggle with the physical act of writing. When my oldest son was young, writing was terribly exhausting and very difficult for him, and inhibited the flow of his creativity. If I asked him to write about a topic — even a topic he loves very much, such as fishing — I would only get a few scrawled lines of very simplistic writing.
But if I asked him to TELL me about fishing, he could spool out reams of well-constructed sentences! That, my friends, is what I call Writing with a capital W: the ability to craft coherent sentences, paragraphs and stories. As a professional writer, I know that Writing is the key. So I simply removed the physical barrier. I typed my son’s thoughts as they came to him, and as a result, my son was able to Write long plays and stories. (And don’t worry about becoming your kids’ permanent secretary. Trust me, the day comes when they don’t want you to type their emails and stories anymore!)
Find Meaningful Opportunities to Write
Most kids don’t like to write for the sake of writing. But most kids like getting mail, or entering contests. So help your kids write to pen pals, Grandma, Grandpa or anyone else. Look up writing contests in your area. Heck, you can even let your kids draft the grocery list!
Does your child like to draw? Ask him or her to draw you a story; then let them tell you the story, based on the pictures. You could also ask your child to tell you a story about her favorite stuffed animals, or act of a spontaneous story with your child using puppets or toys.
Kids love to author their own books. So staple together a bunch of paper and let your child go. (Don’t think your kids will go for it? Place a bunch of stapled-together paper on the table, along with some markers, pens, old magazines, glue and scissors, and see what happens.)
Accept Your Kids’ Writing, As Is
When your kids show you something they’ve written independently, praise the effort and expression. DO NOT pick apart the spelling, grammar or punctuation. Kids who learn to love writing — who learn to love sharing their thoughts via the written word — will keep at it. Eventually, they will ask for your help with spelling. And grammar. And punctuation. They will notice differences between what they write, and what they read, and they will ask for your help. Until then, your job is to encourage a love of Writing.
What are some methods you use for teaching writing?
Jennifer can be found writing at Blogging ‘Bout Boys.