Writing helps communicate thoughts, complete tasks and demonstrate the mastery of a skill. It is an integral part of every elementary school student’s education. In fact, with the adoption of the Common Core Standards, students are using their writing skills even more than before across the curriculum. No longer is writing taught as a stand-alone topic; rather, it is now integrated into all core academic areas. Here are some examples of where your child may encounter writing tasks:
- Students may be given a math problem and they are expected to explain in writing how they solved it.
- Science tests may involve a few multiple choice questions followed by a two-page essay question.
- During reading instruction, students may be asked to look back into the text and use specific details from the passage to support their reading comprehension writing assignment.
Writing is not an easy task for all students. For many struggling writers, these assignments and assessments may leave students frustrated and discouraged. It is challenging to put thoughts into words on a page in an organized manner. The good news is that parents can support and enrich their children’s writing skills in the home environment. This support may help make the task of writing easier and more enjoyable for students!
10 Tips for Building Writing Skills at Home:
1. Provide a variety of materials for writing. Fun pens and pretty papers can be a great motivational tool.
2. Create a space in your home for writing that is free from distractions.
3. Choose strong vocabulary words to learn at home for the week. Use these words in your daily oral vocabulary and written work. Words such as “obstacles” and “curious” are a great start. See if your child can use them both in a written story.
4. Integrate core academic area writing at home. Do a science project together and then write about the process or results.
5. Encourage writing for a variety of purposes. Your child could make a shopping list, write a fictional story or send a letter.
6. Use technology to improve writing. Encourage your child to send an e-mail to a friend or publish a story online with a program such as Little Bird Tales.
7. Allow your child to observe you writing on your own. Be a good role model and smile while you are doing it, too! Take time to share your writing with him or her and talk about how you use writing in your personal and professional life. Show a variety of different written work such as a written letter, business communication or journal page.
8. Connect writing with your child’s passion. If your son is interested in the Magic Tree House series of books, encourage him to write a letter to Mary Pope Osborne. If your daughter is interested in mysteries, have her create a scavenger hunt with written clues to find a hidden treasure.
9. Celebrate writing in a variety of ways. You could:
- Host a family “open mic” night once a month and take turns reading poems or stories written by family members out loud.
- Tape completed stories to the refrigerator.
- Do a happy dance together with your child when a completed writing project comes home from school with a positive note.
10. Last, but not least, it is important to provide time to write daily. In order for writing skills to improve, students must spend time writing. Add it to your family’s daily routine and build it into the schedule. This will help your writer to practice and gain confidence in his or her writing.
For additional writing tips, check out Sylvan’s writing programs! Our expert tutors can create an individualized writing plan, share tips and guide your child through writing prompts he or she sees on a regular basis. As millions of successful students and their families will tell you, a little writing help at Sylvan goes a long way.
One of the main challenges of parenting is awakening the child’s desire to learn, explore, discover, and express. Sure, we can leave the education part to the teachers and the iPad, but is that the right solution? No! Sometimes, parents have to interfere. It’s their job to be the first teachers their children will ever have.
As your children make progress through different educational levels, they will be expected to write. A lot! College and university, in particular, are heavily linked to academic writing. Your kid will have to write essays, research papers, term papers, and, hopefully, an entire dissertation. The first challenge is an essay.
The teacher assigns an essay with broad guidelines, and your little student is expected to deliver a masterful piece by a precise deadline. You’ll probably face a very frustrated child at this point. Your kid is supposed to write an entire paper, but no one taught them how to do that. Maybe they were writing short stories before, but an essay is a whole other thing. How do you help them write a perfect paper? There are 5 steps to success.
Practice, practice, practice!
A professor of education at Arizona State University reviewed around 250 studies on how to help students develop writing skills. Professor Steve Graham was trying to answer the age-old question: is it best to leave students to learn writing naturally, or do they achieve better results when they get instructions? He found that effective practices do help with the progress. Here’s the first tip he gives: spend more time writing.
The writing practice is not applied in the classroom. Teachers may give brief exercises, but what they prefer doing is using the classroom time for lessons and leaving the practice part as a homework activity. So, you’re in charge of that part of your kid’s education.
If you want your kid to write great essays, you need to motivate them to write a lot. Think of a theme of the day. What did they learn today? Did they learn about the solar system? Set a topic: “If you could visit any planet, which one would you choose? How do you imagine life there?” The following day, set a realistic topic: “Do research on Africa. Write about the way animals live there.”
Make sure these topics are interesting for your kid.
An essay usually consists of 5 paragraphs: an introduction, three body paragraphs, and a conclusion. Teachers usually explain what each paragraph is supposed to contain when assigning the first essay to the class. However, sometimes they forget to provide examples, so the students have no idea how the actual paper would look like.
At the website of any essay writing service, you’ll find great guidelines and samples of various types of papers. Give few of them to your kid to read, and help them envision what a proper essay looks like.
Use Pinterest to organize resources
Pinterest is a really fun tool for creating visual material you find on the web. Parents like using it for collecting parenting tips, home decor ideas, photos of beautiful clothes, and much more. Now, you can start creating special boards for your kid’s essays.
The essay writing process starts with good research. Before your child can write a paper on a topic, they need to learn something about it. They won’t be able to memorize all information they read online. Moreover, they will need to save the resources, so they can reference them in the paper. That’s why Pinterest is a great tool to use during this stage. Whenever you find an interesting source of information, pin it in the relevant board.
Once your kid is inspired enough through the online material you both located, they can proceed to the following stage.
Brainstorm and plan
One of the main requirements for an essay is cohesion. If you assign a topic and let your kid write whatever comes to his or her mind, you’ll end up reading a disconnected essay that the teacher won’t like. That’s why it’s important to start the process with brainstorming and planning.
- MindMeister is one of the most effective online brainstorming tools. If your kid is not that good at using the computer, you can create the map as he or she comes up with ideas. The mind maps created with this tool are highly visual, and they help the user find connections between the arguments.
- When the writer-to-be gets the main ideas through the brainstorming process, it’s time for planning. Essay Map is a great tool that helps fit those ideas in a proper essay structure. It asks the writer to create a few sentences for each section of the paper, and then it offers a map for the essay. After that, it will be really easy to connect the dots and write the actual paper.
Let them use the tablet
Does your kid think that the tablet is much more fun than plain pen-and-paper? That’s okay. We’re dealing with tech generation, after all. You can use your child’s preference for technology to inspire him or her to write. Byword is a great text editor for iPad. It makes the process of writing clean and simple, and it has a neat markdown feature.
To make the essay writing process more fun, you can use Bamboo Paper – an app that simulates the process of writing with a real pen on a real paper.
Beware: the process won’t be easy. Your kid will likely show some resistance to essay writing. What’s the best method to fight resistance? Persistence! Inspire your kid to practice more, but think of more amusing topics every time. When you manage to turn writing into a daily routine, the success will be inevitable.
Karen Dikson is a teacher and a writer from New Jersey. Her works have been published on Huffington Post and other well-known educational resources. She loves to help her students succeed and achieve their goals. Connect with Karen on Twitter
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