3 Fun and Easy Ways to Encourage Your Child to Write More- guest article by Jacob Maslow

As a teacher, parent, and writer, I know firsthand the importance of written communication.  Today our children are learning in a different world than we did, and that can mean some adaptations need to be made to our way of thinking about learning how to write.  The stakes are high-if you’re wondering about how to make writing easier for your children, read my guest post today by Jacob Maslow.  He’s got some great ideas!
Strong writing skills are crucial for success in high school, college and beyond. Parents can help their children develop their writing skills by reading to them, providing a wide variety of reading materials and encouraging them to practice their writing skills. However, even the most avid reader can be a reluctant writer. Here are a few ways to help make writing less intimidating and more fun for your child so that they get the experience that is necessary to develop into fluid writers.

Make the Act of Writing Easier

Writing by hand is hard work! Many children shy away from writing simply because of the time and energy involved in putting pencil to paper. Like any skill, handwriting becomes easier the more that you practice, but getting your child to practice is often easier said than done.

Parents can make handwriting easier by helping their child develop the fine motor skills that are necessary for writing. Puzzles, modeling clay and dough, stringing beads and lacing and other games can exercise these muscles and  help develop hand-eye coordination without seeming too much like work.

Start small when encouraging your older children to practice their handwriting so that they can develop stamina without being too discouraged. Even a few minutes of practice a day can help them improve their handwriting skills. Help them make captions for their artwork or ask them to help make shopping or to-do lists. Play games like hangman, Boggle or Mad-Libs that incorporate writing in a fun way.

Keyboarding and typing are useful skills for older children, but should not take the place of handwriting practice. Writing by hand helps children develop neural pathways that are important for their future learning. Keyboarding should only be introduced as an aid to writing after handwriting has been firmly established.

Use Imaginative Play to Help Your Child Develop Narratives

Imaginative play is popular with early childhood educators because it’s one of the best ways to help children increase the complexity and structure of their inner narratives. Pretend play helps children develop rich inner narratives and to learn how to communicate them to their playmates.

While younger children can’t write down these narratives, the practice they get in composing inner narratives will help them as they advance in school and have to call upon their imagination to compose sentences, paragraphs and essays. Parents can help their child play imaginatively by limiting screen time and providing props (toy kitchens, costumes, puppets, etc) that can help support their child’s imaginative play.
Older children can be encouraged to take their pretend play further by asking them to write out scripts for a performance. Set up a small puppet theater or stage for your children so that they can perform their creations for friends and family. Puppets work especially well since they allow your child to practice writing things from multiple points of view without requiring a large cast of actors. If you have a video camera, older children can also write their own movies, television series and commercials to be filmed to share with family and friends.

Make Writing a Part of Everyday Life

Again, the more opportunities that your child has to practice, the easier writing will become. Formal writing instruction is important, but it’s usually not enough to make your child completely comfortable with writing and often comes with a lot of pressure that makes writing seem like a chore instead of a useful tool.

Here are a few ideas to incorporate writing into your child’s daily routine:

Give them a notebook or journal for writing down their thoughts. It doesn’t have to be expensive, but often something that seems fancy or grown-up to a child can capture their imagination. Special diaries with locks or invisible ink are irresistible to most children.

Encourage them to send letters, cards and artwork to family and friends. They don’t have to be distant friends – dropping off a handwritten card to an elderly neighbor or classmate can be just as special and provide immediate feedback that will motivate your child to write more.

Let your child help you with your daily writing tasks, such as making grocery lists, writing down measurements and jotting down reminders on the family calendar.
Many children enjoy writing their own comics and picture books. Combing writing with art is an excellent way to help your child’s creativity grow while they practice their writing skills. Provide a wide variety of art supplies and look for books that help your child learn how to improve their drawing skills.

Find toys that encourage writing that they can use as props in their imaginative play. A whiteboard or chalkboard or easel can be used to play school, be a menu board for a restaurant, a for sale sign, an advertisement for their play or a danger sign.

Let your child make and display handwritten signs for their room.

Give your child prompts to help them come up with their own short stories or poems. Allow them to read them to the family at the dinner table or during family time.

Help your child get an advantage in school and career by giving them plenty of opportunity to practice their writing skills in a way that is fun and natural to them. Even a few minutes of writing practice each day can be enough to help them become comfortable and fluid writers.

Jacob Maslow is a father of five who has had a lot of practice in helping children learn how to write. He works for online retailer, Today’s Concept: which sells a wide variety of educational and fun toys that ignite children’s imaginations, including the always popular line of Melissa and Doug puppet theaters and puppets.

Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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2 thoughts on “3 Fun and Easy Ways to Encourage Your Child to Write More- guest article by Jacob Maslow

  1. Aharilyn says:

    I love these ideas! And, while these suggestions are for younger kids, it doesnt stop there. My blog http://knowwhatimeanjelly bean.com was created as an at home writing assignment. My daughter (11) and son (13) are required to write articles for it. My son’s best friend has to write something if he wants to spend the night 🙂 It gives them a creative outlet to write about things other than school work.
    Aharilyn recently posted…String of Pearls – Coveted Cosmic AccessoryMy Profile

    1. Aharilyn, That’s great! I’m a teacher and a mom, and love having the kids write as much as possible. This year I’ll finally have the technology to have my students blog at school; we’ll have enough computers to make it possible! I’ve done ‘silent blogging’ with my classes, and it’s amazing how insightful and articulate they are about other’s writing. Thanks so much for commenting; I hope to see more of your kids’ writing! ~Jennifer

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