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When was the last time we thought about the physical act of writing? I know for me, even though my job title is WRITER, I still struggle to physically write something versus typing it out or texting. Imagine how our kids must feel since they only know how to use electronic devices now. So it made me think, what can you do to actively improve your child’s writing skills, so they become proficient with it?
What I love about these tips is how easy they are to blend into our daily lives. These are purely from a parenting perspective and I’m not near as well-versed in teaching children as their awesome teachers are.
From night time reading to writing out grocery lists, there’s no shortage of ways to get our kids to practice their writing skills. I’ve pulled together a list of the easiest ones we can all start doing now.
#1. Read, and read, then read a little more
Reading is one of the best connections to writing. I’m not an educator by any means, but I know the relationship exists between reading and writing. If your kids are young, then read to them. If they are older, then encourage them to read to you. Maybe start listening to audiobooks if you have a hesitant reader in your household.
I think this is easier when the kids are younger, but I still keep trying this with my older boys. When the kids are little, it’s a simpler process for us to pick out the books and have them sit beside us as read outloud. However, as my kids have grown, and especially my two boys, I find it much more difficult to find books they’re really interested in.
I haven’t cracked the reading code quite yet with my boys, but we take lots of trips to the library and we try tons of different subjects. I’ll start posting some of their favorites and let you know as we continue to find subjects they enjoy reading about.
My daughter has taken a much higher interest in reading, and she is currently enjoying the Little House on the Prairie series. But she loves to hear me talk about how those were my absolute favorite books when I was her age, and now she’s following suit simply because I mentioned it.
I continue to push reading for lots of reasons, but I know it helps with the writing process too.
#2. Make games out of it
Writing occurs in all different forms. Look for chances to write where your child doesn’t have to know they’re practicing a skill. Crossword puzzles, word games, word searches and Sudoku puzzles are fun ways to incorporate writing skills and continue with the reading and writing connection.
#3. Write letters and thank you notes
Handwriting letters and thank you notes are the perfect way to practice better writing skills. I’ll be the first one to admit I’m horrible at writing my own thank you notes, but thankfully my husband is the one who likes to remind all of us around here to write them.
Not only do handwritten notes go a long way in teaching our kids about proper gift etiquette and handwriting, but it brightens someone’s day. Have you ever gotten mad when you’ve received a thank you note? No, of course not. They usually bring a smile to your face, and maybe the kids need that as their encouragement, instead of telling them “hey, it’s time to practice your writing skills with a thank you note.”
Recently my son played in an American Junior Golf Association (AJGA) golf tournament, and I was so impressed they required each of the tournament players to write thank you notes to the local Mayor and golf course. It was an ideal combination of getting my son to practice writing over the summer while practicing his good manners too.
One way to drive this point home is to order their own stationary. There are so many customizable options on Etsy, or pick up a pack of stationary and thank you notes at Hallmark.
#4. Encourage children to journal or keep a diary
Journaling is a wonderful way for kids to channel their creativity and feelings. It doesn’t have to be a diary per se, kids can use journals to record their silly thoughts, jokes, or whatever they feel like. It’s a great space for them to add pictures and doodles to go along with their words.
For the traditional diary, there are so many amazing choices out there now. You can find diaries with more than just blank pages. Now they have quizzes and fill in the blank sections where you can capture the kids feelings right in the moment. My daughter has this adorable diary with a “lock” on it, but there are so many cute options out there.
Journals aren’t only for girls either. We bought a University of Georgia journal for our oldest son. He wrote in it non-stop – mostly about the Georgia Bulldogs – until the pages started falling apart.
#5. Use writing prompts and worksheets to help
Writing is my profession and there are times I sit and stare at a blank page wondering what should come next. Our kids may feel the exact same way, which is where writing prompts and worksheets come in.
There’s nothing wrong with giving them a little extra push or inspiration. Prompts are a fun, imaginative way to get your children thinking about their own stories.
Okay, now it’s time for a shameless plug. Last year a publisher hired me to write a book of story prompts for elementary-aged children, all surrounding the super popular Roblox video game. It’s now available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble and is a perfect answer to the question “what do I write about?”
Whether you use a book like mine or one based on another subject, or simply download online printables and worksheets, you can get your kids to start thinking creatively about their next story.
#6. Create a cozy spot to encourage reading and writing
All three of my kids love blankets and pillows. Everywhere they go they have to drag along some type of bedding with them. Of course I can’t say much, my husband and I do the same exact thing for any road trip or vacation.
Kids love to be cozy and cuddled up. Encourage them to build a reading fort or their own soft place full of blankets, pillows, stuffed animals – whatever they want. You can give them a small lamp or one of those headlight flashlights to make it even easier.
Let them know they can create the spot however they like – as long as it’s electronic-free – and encourage them to read or write in their journal in this place.
#7. Have your kids write out everyday tasks
My daughter loves to write out my grocery lists and shopping lists. This works to my advantage because I’m at the grocery store about three or four times a week it seems. She also loves to write out menus. Get your kids involved in the planning and have them fill out the lists.
It’s such an easy way to get them to practice writing, and especially spelling words they may not use everyday (such as Pimento Cheese). I’ve saved the menus my daughter has written out over the years and I love seeing her cute handwriting change over time. Plus it’s a sweet reminder of a special meal we had together as a family – I call that a win-win.
#8. Get excited when they practice (and improve) their writing skills
When your child brings home a short story they wrote at school or you notice them writing in their journal on their own, make a big deal of it. Take time to read their work and offer specific comments on something that caught your attention. These are comments their teachers may not have time to make on a regular basis.
When we start actively participating in their written homework and make comments about it, the kids take notice. They may not “love” writing yet, but at least they know you will see the effort they’re putting in.
When you stop to think about it, there are numerous easy, fun, and inexpensive ways to get children to practice writing each day. These tips are only the beginning of simple things we can do at home or on the road to improve our child’s writing skills.
What other tips and techniques do you use to get your children to practice handwriting? Do you find it challenging to incorporate this into your daily routines? I know they’re surrounded by technology all day long, but there’s something so beneficial about improving this fundamental skill.