There are some frightening statistics about the abilities of students when it comes to writing. Even though writing is one of my passions, I know that it is not for everyone. However, it is also a needed skill in life – one that our kids can learn if we give them enough tools with which to try.
- 80% of high school seniors in the United States are not considered to be proficient writers.
- 20% of high school seniors in the United States are not considered to be basic writers.
- Girls tend to outscore boys on assessments of writing skills.
- It is estimated that American firms spend more than $3 billion each year as a result of writing deficiencies among employees.
So – with all of the research pointing to the fact that too many children, especially boys, are not acquiring sufficient writing skills, what can we do about it?
How Can We Help Our Kids Write Well?
We have to start earlier. We can’t wait until they are seniors in high school and then realize that they are not prepared for college courses or the expectations of their employers. As the mother of 4 children, 3 of them boys, I have seen firsthand how it can be more challenging to teach writing skills to some children. Writing is not a naturally occurring milestone – it needs to be woven into the activities in which children participate and it needs to become less of a chore and more of an extension of communication. Our children need to learn that writing (and not just LOL, IDK, or BRB) allows them to express themselves, helps them reach their goals, and is a tool they will need in their future.
Part of the challenge of teaching writing to children is that writing, unlike reading, can seem infinite. There are as many ways to write a paragraph about a monkey as there are words in your child’s vocabulary. This can overwhelm children and shut them down to the writing process before they ever even get started.
Printable Activities for Writing
Give tangible goals to your kids for writing. I use these tickets as a way to remind my children on what areas they need to focus. Each ticket has a short, limited amount of goals, appropriate to where they are with their writing skills. As the kids have gotten older I adjust the tickets to fit their needs, sometimes just writing down on a notecard for the older kids 4-5 writing goals.
Don’t ask for it all in one. If you’re a homeschool parent like me, you can do this more easily. If your student attends public or private school, consider talking with his or her teacher about the writing strategies used in class. Find out what methods are utilized, and gently suggest some of these ideas.
- Limit writing to writing – especially for struggling writers. When you start to add grades for penmanship, spelling, and an accompanying picture to the mix it just gets to be too much.
- Brainstorm with your child. Show him how to write down words that he associates with the topic. These words can then be “jumping off” points for sentences, and they help kids focus their ideas.
- Try to help your kids create visual maps of their writing. For boys especially the writing process is not concrete enough to let them feel secure. When my boys were younger I used imagery like these worksheets to help them Build Great Paragraphs.
How do you help your kids learn to write?
[Printables by Chris Oldenburg, shared through BetterParenting.com – free to share for learning – not to copy, sell, or claim as your own :)]