Writing is not a skill that’s developed overnight. It takes time, patience, guidance, and a lot of practice. For some reason, we believe that children should be born with the ability to write a fantastic five-paragraph essay that has ideas that flow, vivid details, amazing characters, varying sentences, and includes words that show off their extensive vocabulary. Sorry, that’s not going to happen. Writing takes time, and there is a process of teaching children how to write.
Most people think that writing begins with a pencil. Nope! Writing actually starts with a book. The more your child reads, the more vivid their imagination will become.
There are many different strategies to teach writing. I wanted to give you a few to get you started:
Start: One step at a time
- Writing doesn’t begin with a paragraph, it starts with one sentence. Read a book and then have your child draw (yes, draw if they are small) or write one to two sentences about what they’ve read in the book. Writing can begin as early as four or five years old.
- Journal: Let your child write down their ideas. Purchase a journal from Amazon, TJ Maxx, or Target. Let them write about their day or feelings.
- Have your child retell a story. This allows the child to recall details in his/her own words. This process will help with narrative essays.
Teach: Children can’t produce what they haven’t learned.
- Introduce them to different styles of writing. (personal narratives, reports, opinion pieces, comparative, and descriptive writing.) Take your time and allow your child to practice in each style.
- Have them read a paragraph and then ask questions such as: What details did the writer use? How does the narrator feel about ____? What’s the setting? What lesson does the story teach? What does the paragraph reveal about the kind of person John Doe is? Which signal words call attention to details that are alike and different? How does the information in this paragraph appeal to our five senses?
- Give the child an essay and have them correct it. This will help them proofread their own work.
- Give them a graphic organizer to use with their writing.
- Model how to write an essay.
Apply: This will allow your child/student to move from presentation to application.
- Choose a simple topic that interests them.
- Give them a graphic organizer to help with their ideas.
- Walkthrough setting up the paragraph.
- Let them write a rough draft and then have a conference with the child to review the paper.
- Allow the child to rewrite the paper.
One resource that I’ve found helpful is this Harcourt Writing Skills.
If you have any questions, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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