Is your child naturally a good writer or does s/he struggle with putting their thoughts down on paper? It is fairly common for young writers to lack the confidence and skills to write something coherent, especially on the first try. There are things that parents and teachers can do to help their students become better, stronger, and more confident writers. Let’s take a look at some of the suggestions from educators, professional writers, and business people that will help nurture the writer in your child.
Answer the Question – When Will I Use this Skill?
It is a common mantra with students who question the usefulness of a skill as they journey through their educational experience: “When will I ever use this skill?” While writing is a sought after and very useful skill in a huge number of fields, many students do not understand the value beyond the assignment at hand. Practically every field of business uses writing, be it a business proposal, a contract, emails, social media, or handbooks. Writing is not something that any of us can avoid. It may be helpful to explain to your student how writing is a part of your life so they begin to see the future value in the activity.
Give Writing a Purpose
Whenever a student begins a writing assignment, ask them what the purpose is? Is the assignment to persuade the reader, give a plot summary, explain a point of view, or maybe compare and contrast characters or situations? Knowing the purpose will help focus the writing.
Even adults can benefit by organizing their thoughts before writing. Organizing can mean many things such as: writing in chronological order, using general terms and building to more specific statements, or using evidence from the text to prove a point. Some students find it helpful to create a visual organizer to plot out what they want to say, while others use bullet points or sticky notes to help. Whatever method works for you, use it!
Teachers and students alike support brainstorming as a way to get organized. This may include writing down quick blurbs of ideas and grouping them together in order to get thoughts to paper. Then, rearrange those thoughts and place them in whatever order seems most viable. Start by breaking thoughts into major paragraphs and then see what order makes the most sense to the purpose of the writing.
Many writing assignments ask for evidence either from research or from a text. Have your child go back and underline specific evidence, whether it is a quote from the text or a specific reference, to be sure they are giving evidence that will help make their point.
Most writers practice reading their work aloud so they can hear mistakes or gaps in the content. Practice reading the assignment out loud to your child so they can hear what they have written. Many times when the writer reads their own work, it is hard for them to pick up on mistakes because they know what they meant. Having someone else read it, whether it is a parent or classmate, can make mistakes in content and grammar become apparent.
Practice, Practice, Practice
Even Nobel-Laureates don’t get it right on the first try when they write. Practice writing whenever you can, even for fun. Give your child positive feedback on the aspects s/he is doing well on and help them see the areas where they are struggling.