Helping Your Child Learn to Write Well

by Elvin Klassen1

Writing is the final stage in the complex process of communicating that begins with thinking. Students need practice in learning to write well. Here are some suggestions to encourage writing.

Begin early

One of the first means of communication for your children is through drawing. Encourage each child to draw, and discuss the drawings. Ask: What is the boy doing? Does the house look like ours? Can you tell a story about your picture?

Make it real

Your children need to do real writing. Encourage them to write to relatives and friends. Perhaps they would enjoy corresponding with a pen pal. This is an excellent way to use e-mail if it is available.

Suggest note taking

Encourage your children 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.

Brainstorm

Talk with your children about their impressions and encourage them to describe people and events to you. Make lists of these ideas.

Encourage journaling

Writing in a journal is excellent writing practice as well as a good outlet for venting feelings. Encourage your children to write about things that happen at home and school, about people they like or dislike—and why, things to remember, or things they want to do. Specifically encourage your children to write about personal feelings—pleasures as well as disappointments. If they want to share their journals with you, read the entries and discuss them – especially their ideas and perceptions.

Write together

Have your children help you with writing all types of letters. This helps them to see firsthand that writing is important to adults and truly useful.

Use games

Games and puzzles help children to increase vocabulary and make them more fluent in speaking and writing. Building a vocabulary builds confidence.

Make lists

Most children like to make lists just as they like to count. They might make lists of their cassettes, baseball cards, dolls, and furniture in a room. They could list items they would like to have, or make lists of things to do, school work, social events, and other reminders.

Encourage copying

If a child likes a particular song, suggest learning the words by writing them down. Encourage copying favorite poems or quotations from books and plays.

Adult responses

Express an interest and ask questions about the things your children say, draw, and write. Take a positive approach and say something good about each childís writing. Is it accurate? Descriptive? Thoughtful? Interesting? Does it say something? Relate your comments to specific parts of the writing.

Permission is granted to copy, but not for commercial purposes.

  1. Elvin Klassen worked as a teacher, principal and district administrator in Canada.