Teaching Kids to Write 101

Helping your child develop a love of writing

Teaching your child how to write intimidates many parents. Sadly, it’s often a lesson pushed aside for other more concrete subjects. After 30 years of published writing, I’ve learned a thing or two about writing. I also homeschooled for ten years and picked up some effective teaching methods.

How to Teach Kids to Write

When kids learn how to write, it can be a daunting experience for them. Some won’t be able to write with clarity and organization, which can lead to frustration.

But that’s why parental involvement is vital. As your child is learning how to write, you can encourage them throughout the process. By supporting them, it helps them develop a love for writing that has a positive developmental impact further down the line.

If you’re having trouble with writing ideas, you can visit the Department of Education’s website. There are various tools there that you can use to help your child as they begin writing. And in some cases a reading tutor may be able to help with language skills like writing.

Before You Begin

Before you begin writing exercises, make sure they’re in an environment that cultivates productivity. It will help if you set up a workstation that’s flat and has good lighting. 

Also, make sure that you have materials such as a pencil and paper to write on. It can help prevent your child from feeling overwhelmed.

Don’t make it bigger than it is

“Grass is green.” This is a sentence. It has a verb and a noun. No, it’s not flashy or exciting, but it’s still writing.

Writing doesn’t haven’t to be scary or complicated. In fact, writing can be the easiest of the subjects to teach. Be Alright has some suggestions for building writing skills, whether you homeschool or just want to give your kids another creative outlet. We have tips for inspiring even those students with a deep aversion to writing and for those with learning challenges around spelling and sentence structure.

Related: Reading Intervention Strategies You Need to Know

Day-to-day writing activities

boy writing on printer paper near girl

As your child begins writing, it’s essential to take a consistent approach no matter how their writing looks throughout the first weeks. That will make all the difference as they get better. You can also do various day-to-day activities that can help them get better at writing, such as:

  • Encouraging your child to take notes on trips
  • Let your child see you write
  • Motivate them to keep a journal
  • Write with your child

Each of these activities will encourage your child to write, which will help them slowly get better. Remember, each child will progress at their own pace, so it’s important to remain patient as their writing evolves.

Keep it simple: Start with a journal

No matter the student, make this the mantra for a writing lesson, “Keep it simple.” Writing is simply a matter of communicating with the written word. That’s it.

Look out your window right now and describe one thing you see and hear. For example, I see a leafy green tree. I hear a neighbor’s air conditioner.

It’s not much, but it’s writing. It’s an observation I recorded.

A great writing curriculum or supplement for any student includes time daily, even 5 to 15 minutes, of journaling. Make the journal their own by allowing them to choose it, along with a special pen or pencil. Adding stickers or designs to the journal gives it even more meaning.

If you’re homeschooling, make this journaling practice a part of each school day. If you want your kids to build confidence around writing at school, have them spend 30 minutes each weekend writing in their journals describing the events of the week.

Don’t judge. Don’t correct spelling. Hand’s off the journal. Let them create whatever they feel driven to create. You may find a page full of doodles at first. That’s okay. For kids without any special learning needs, ask them to write at least 10 words on each page.

Some kids may need a prompt:

“Yesterday, I hated…”

“I’m excited about…”

“Outside, I see…”

“I’m proud of myself because…”

“I’m angry with myself because…”

“My parents’ dumbest rule is…”

Start there, especially the last one. No kid passes up the opportunity to critique their parents.

Teaching Young Children How to Write

When teaching young children how to write, again, it’s important for them to remain consistent. Any lapses can hinder their writing progress, which you want to avoid to limit discouragement.

Whenever your child does get discouraged, here are some things that you should remember:

Compliment Their Writing

By positively reinforcing your child, you can continue to keep their motivation levels up as they write.

Help Them With Spelling

Spelling is huge during early writing development because kids know how to say a word but not how to spell it. Correcting their spelling while praising them lets your child know that they’re doing a great job.

Don’t Write For Your Child

When your child gets discouraged and doesn’t want to do work, don’t write for them. Learning how to meet deadlines and having responsibility are all a part of the writing process.

Related: Dysgraphia

For special needs children

Kids with dyslexia and other challenges around spelling and writing may fight you when it comes to writing. And, you may find someone else should lead these writing lessons.

If the challenges aren’t disabling, then I usually ask students to write without worrying about spelling. “Hey! We can always fix the spelling. Just get those important ideas down on paper to remember.”

However, this may not work with kids who have profound issues around spelling and have confidence issues on top of it.

In this case, don’t force it. Use all the technology we have available these days to get them to express themselves with the written word, including Talk-to-Text and Voice Memo.

Case in point: I have a student with some terrible experiences with writing. This student has great ideas but chokes whenever I ask her to write.

So, say we’ve read a book or article, and the assignment asks for a summary. Instead of having this student write it out, I ask the student to TELL me the important points verbally.

I type as she talks. In this way, I can show her how she IS a writer, even when she isn’t writing. Most kids, even those with challenges, love to share about a book they love.

For these kids, it’s important to find material that’s a source of passion. It may be a silly TV show or video game, and that’s okay.

Focus on the goal: Get them to formulate sentences, either verbally or in writing, which convey an idea clearly. That’s it.

Sage Reading provides credentialed academic tutors to help students achieve academic success. All students can benefit from support and those with specific learning disabilities often need the extra help. Learn more about how we can help today!

Write with them

Writing is a great “Do as I do, not as I say” exercise. I find many, many adults have their own phobias around writing and, without knowing it, pass these along to their kids.

Having a journal is equally rewarding if you are 12 or 50. Join in. Let them see you write and enjoy the quiet, meditative, calm process. Or, maybe, you like to play loud heavy metal music and bang out sentences like a maniac.

In either case, discover the joy of writing with your kids. In this way, you give them an edge on a world that heavily relies on the written word.

Encouraging Your Child to Write

Sometimes it can be like pulling teeth trying to get your child to write. They could be discouraged from a previous bad experience or bored due to the monotony of writing. So to help, here are some activities that can help encourage your child to write.

Surface tracing

Surface tracing is a great way to help your child with their writing. To start, draw a letter and ask your child to pay attention to how it’s formed. Then have them trace the letter from memory.

It’s an effective way to help your child with their letter formation.

If your child is having trouble tracing the letter from memory, you can have them put their hands on yours as you trace it. That way, they’ll be able to remember the motions it takes to form a letter once they try again on their own.

Related: Helping Your Child Develop a Love of Writing

The wet, dry, and try method

The wet-dry-try method is another innovative way to help your child with letter tracing. First, on a chalkboard, write the letter you want them to copy. Then have your child use wet material, like a sponge, to go over the letter and make a wet version of it. 

Finally, after the wet patch dries, have your child trace the outline of the letter. They’ll be able to see the shape of the letter clearer, as opposed to trying to write it from memory on a piece of paper.

Incorporate their favorite music

Writing the same letters and numbers over again can be tedious. So to keep your child entertained as they write, try to incorporate music and movement into their writing time.

Search YouTube for videos that play fun music while showing the shapes and outlines of letters. It will further increase your child’s chances of remembering that same letter when they write again. 

You can look for videos that show children how to make letters with their bodies. It’s another great way to show them the formation of letters and increase their writing proficiency.

Final Thoughts on Teaching Your Kids to Write

boy sitting on bench while holding a book

Yes, teaching your child to write can be a daunting experience for you and them. But it’s an experience that is necessary for growth. Writing will allow your child to learn a new form of expression and will enable clearer thoughts.

As you begin writing exercises, remember to keep each session short. Longer practice sessions can lead to frustration and disappointment. But if your child is eager to keep going, then continue to work with them.

Also, make sure that you don’t get frustrated with your child if they mess up. They’re learning a new skill that will take some time to get better at. Continue to remain a supportive parent and encourage them even if they mess up.

After a certain period, reassess your child’s skills to see how they’re doing. I’m sure you will both be surprised at the progress that’s made. But that all stems from the active role that you’re playing in your child’s writing development. So continue to support and watch them flourish.
If you are struggling to get your child to write, Sage Reading can help! We provide skilled tutors that can support learning in reading and language skills. Contact us today to get started!

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