The summer gives you an opportunity to foster your child’s writing skills in a way that emphasizes the creative, enjoyable aspects of writing. The following suggestions may help you do this:
- Write down stories your young child tells you. Have your child dictate a made-up story or play to you while you write it down. Then read it back to him to see if he wants to make changes. You might also have him illustrate the story. Staple the pages together to create a book.
- Attend more to the meaning than the mechanics. In an effort to bolster your child’s confidence, be positive about his efforts and focus more on what he did well than on technical errors.
- Provide opportunities for your child to write. The list below offers examples of many types of writing activities that children enjoy. Many magazines for children publish stories by children. One magazine, Stone Soup (stonesoup.com), is written entirely by children. There are few things more thrilling for a child than seeing something he has written get published.
- Display your child’s work. This is the best way of showing appreciation for his writing.
- Take advantage of technology. By fourth or fifth grade, if not before, your child should be able to use a word-processing program. He will find that word processing speeds up the writing process, provides an easy way making corrections, and prints a legible copy. Word processing is especially welcome to those with handwriting difficulties.
- Serve as a model for your child. If your child sees you writing, he will be more inclined to write. Let him witness the process you go through as you write, including writing a rough draft, editing, and proofreading.
- Give presents related to writing. You should be able to find something from the following list to give to your child as a gift: magnetic alphabet letters, pencils with your child’s name, pads of paper, a pencil sharpener, fancy erasers, personalized stationary, a stationary-making kit, dictionary, thesaurus, and a diary.
Suggest these writing activities to your child:
- letter to a friend, relative, or pen pal
- story submission to a children’s magazine
- letter to a favorite children’s book author
- postcard while on vacation
- thank-you notes
- family newsletter
- a journal
- lyrics from songs
- letter to a government official
- request for a free sample from a company
- letter to a celebrity
- child’s written rationale for a purchase
- captions for original artwork or family photos
- script of a play
- telephone messages on message board
- letter to a newspaper
- home-made birthday cards or personalized get-well cards
- letter to a tourist bureau requesting information
Dr. Kenneth Shore is a school and family psychologist in NJ, and a part-time instructor at Rutgers. Visit his website at drkennethshore.nprinc.com.