Solid writing skills are essential for your kid’s future success in school, college, and later life, and the foundations for these skills should be laid as early as possible.
Children are usually naturally inclined to be bubbling with ideas, thoughts, and emotions; however, many of them do not find it nearly as easy to express them on paper. It does not come naturally to many.
However, if your child does not like to write, do not be in a hurry to believe that he/she is naturally bad at this sort of activity. Numerous studies show that people are very rarely naturally good or bad at writing – in other words, a reluctant and awkward writer can become a pro with enough practice and encouragement.
But how do you encourage someone who is not interested in it? Hire a tutor? Try to impress the importance of writing upon your child?
Well, let us talk about some better ways to do it.
1. Help Your Child Practice
When next your child comes up to you and says, “I have problems with my homework! Help me do my essay paper!”, how about actually helping him/her? We do not mean that you should sit down and actually write the essay in his/her stead; what you should do is turn it into an activity you do together. Suggest ideas that can be added to the paper. Point out areas that can be improved. Help your child do the necessary research. Look for ways to make writing interesting – it is probably the only surefire way to get a child really invested in something. You can spend as much time as you like trying to persuade your kid that writing is important, but unless he/she is interested in it, your efforts will probably fall through.
2. Praise Your Child’s Hard Work
Modern culture is so focused on concepts like passion and talent that they permeate virtually everything, child upbringing and education included. We praise children for the things that come easily to them and show how proud we are of their talents and abilities. As a result, it is only natural for a child to start believing that if you have to work hard to achieve something, then you are bad at it and, therefore, there is no point in wasting time on it. This creates a vicious circle: the child is bad at writing but is reluctant to do the only thing that can improve his/her skills – i.e., to apply actual effort.
Make sure you pay attention to how hard your child works and acknowledge it.
3. Do not Focus on Mistakes
One of the most common causes of writer’s block is the fear of making mistakes. Quite often, this fear is instilled at an early age, when we correct the child every time he/she makes a mistake and force him/her to correct it right away. Repeat it enough times, and the child will become nervous and apprehensive, afraid of taking any kind of initiative because it only leads to more corrections.
Of course, proper spelling and grammar are important, but when you oversee your child’s writing attempts, try to relegate correcting mistakes to the revision stage. Let the child express his/her ideas first and think about technical matters later.
4. Word Games
The best way to learn something – both for children and adults – is to do it while having fun. And playing with language opens up virtually unlimited possibilities for fun – and the fun you do not have to waste any money on! Invent puns. Use homophones and homonyms. Blend known words into weird new ones. Give people and things nicknames. Choose a term and ask the child to give an explanation of it in his/her own words. These are just a few possibilities – you can find many more online or think of them yourself.
5. Make Writing Matter
It is one thing to assign a child to write a book report or an essay on a topic he/she does not particularly care about. It is completely another matter to ask him/her to write about something that has immediate and obvious importance in his/her life. If you want your child to be interested in writing, you have to show that writing matters. For example, if your child wants something from you (e.g., a specific birthday present or later bedtime), give him/her an opportunity to persuade you – but only if he/she can do it in writing, using logical argumentation and proper proof.
6. Read and Write with Your Child Every Day
The more you immerse your child in reading and writing, the more it will become an integral part of who he/she is. Make it your mutual habit to read books, articles, short stories, newspapers and discuss what you read. Ask your child what he/she thinks about the latest text he/she read. If you see that your child has a strong opinion about something, encourage him/her to express it in writing.
7. Use Writing Prompts
If your child finds it difficult to start writing, give him/her a little push by using writing prompts. For example, you can ask your child to write a story using the first and the last sentence you prepared for that purpose, or describe his/her day at school, or imagine a day in the life of an animal, his/her favourite cartoon character or another person. Children tend to have extremely active and lively imaginations, and all you have to do in order to tap into them is to give a little encouragement.
The earlier you start developing your child’s writing skills, the better. If you instil the love for writing in him/her at an early age, this skillset will develop further naturally, of its own accord. However, if you neglect it at this stage, rectifying the situation at a later date will not come that cheap, and the results will probably not be as good. No amount of tutors in high school and college can replace these early years of discovering writing as a child.