Writing is not just about pushing a pen on paper or about good handwriting. It is about communicating clearly and thoughtfully. It is a very complex activity where a child has to put together a diverse set of skills - mental and physical - to accomplish what sometimes appears to the child to be an unclear objective.
Due to this complex set of circumstances, it is challenging to both the child and the parents. At the risk of overusing the term, parents have to take a "holistic" approach to teaching children to write well rather than treat it as just another activity.
This article is focused on parents with a child who has learnt to write and are now working on helping the child developing that skill.
5 factors that are essential for good writing
- Interesting topics - The topic for writing must be interesting to the child.
- Time to think - Writing is about expressing one's thoughts on paper. Children should be encouraged to think for a period of time before they start to write an essay or poem or story or journal.
- Discussion - Engaging in a conversation about the thoughts they have, will help them crystallize their thinking further. When they are trying to write, you can help by having a conversation about it. Your questions may also help them think of other paths they have not thought about.
- Practice - Practice makes perfect. The more your child writes, the better her skills will become.
- Review - Besides writing, children must also learn to review and revise their work. Teach your child about the process of creating drafts and then reviewing and refining.
5 tips for parents to help their children learn to write well
- A place to write - Give your child a quiet, but bright and well lit place to write. When they are sitting down and thinking, give them a quiet environment and leave them undisturbed.
- No pressure - Do not put pressure on the child to write. Writing is a creative process and stress reduces creativity. With school assignments, start early so there is enough time to get the task done.
- Help, but do not write - Help your child write by asking incisive questions, giving them open ended thoughts they can analyze or ideas they can develop. Also help them with the grammar. But do not write for them. This is a temptation that many parents find hard to resist, but it is better to let your children learn by themselves.
- Talk with them - Talk with them as much as possible before and after they write. You can be a sounding board for their thoughts before they write.
- Review - You should also read what they have written and give them constructive comments about it. This helps them understand that writing is a process that requires reviewing and revising. You can also give them an article from a magazine and have them critique it. Ask them what they would change or how they would rewrite it.
- Praise - When your child does a good job, praise her. First, focus on what he has done well and remark upon it. It will boost his self-esteem. Then you can offer constructive criticism on areas which could use improvement.
- Topics - Often school assignments can be dry and may not interest your child but they have to get done. To keep the child interested in writing, you should give them interesting topics that they can write about.
Writing is a critical skill and the ability to write well can help your child succeed at many tasks later in their life. By helping them sharpen this skill, parents will give them a good boost of confidence and capability.