Writer’s block. Anxiety. Boredom. Burnout. Even the most seasoned writers are not fully immune from these mental plagues. And for children, a run-in with any one of them can seem insurmountable, leaving students feeling paralyzed and stressed when given a writing assignment with a deadline.
Here at our Atlanta private school, we believe these unfortunate but common issues don’t need to be a death sentence to a student’s ability to craft sentences easily. Parents can aid their children in strengthening their writing skills and stamina by engaging them in frequent and fun exercises and activities. Our Georgia private school teachers are here to help you fill in the blanks and discover practical ways to help your child become a better writer with these seven tried and true tips:
1. Prompt Jar
First, print out some fun writing prompts, fold them, and put them in a jar. Then, have your child draw a prompt from the jar and give them a goal to meet with their prompt (e.g., one paragraph, one page, or 300 words). Treat it like a game, and your child will learn that writing can be fun!
2. Free Writing Journal
Take a trip to the store (or a virtual trip if online shopping is more your thing) and let your child pick out a blank journal. Let them know that this is a special journal for writing. They can write stories, diary entries, or describe a vacation with it; the sky’s the limit! If your child doesn’t seem to use the journal often, provide an incentive for filling its pages.
3. Daily/Weekly Prompts
Frequency and consistency are crucial to building stamina and fostering healthy writing habits. Set an age-appropriate routine, whether daily or weekly, where your child can pick a prompt and write a short story or description. (Writing Wednesday, anyone?)
4. Story Cards
These story cards are one of many options the internet has to offer and are a great way to get the gears working and stories flowing. Children draw multiple cards and use them as a foundation for their story, which means the possibilities are endless!
5. Character Interviews
Character interviews are a great way to get the creative juices flowing and can be done in a variety of ways. You can use a worksheet (like this one on TeachersPayTeachers) and have the child “interview” their story’s main character. If your child needs a break from writing, have them pretend to be the interviewee and ask questions they must answer “in character.”
6. Timed Writing Challenge
Set a timer for a short, age-appropriate amount of time and see how much your child can write before the timer goes off. Try using your prompts or story cards to give your child a direction to run in, and let the race begin!
7. Handwriting Exercises
In addition to developing your child’s creativity and sentence-building skills, it is also imperative that children grow their handwriting abilities and stamina. In a time when typed work is becoming more and more the norm, handwriting practice is often placed on the back burner. This can lead to a decrease in handwriting stamina and overall discomfort with writing. Children who do not spend regular time working on these crucial skills may feel anxious when given a writing assignment that must be completed by hand. These days, it’s important to be intentional about developing healthy handwriting techniques in children.
Try the following exercises and activities with your child at home to strengthen their handwriting abilities:
- Guided letter formation activities and worksheets
- Spacial awareness worksheets
- Playdough writing tray
- Tracing worksheets
- Pencil control exercises
- Pencil grip practice
- Write cards or letters to friends and family
- Give your child bath paints
- Play with sidewalk chalk
Developing a child’s writing skills is not a task for the classroom alone but should be part of every child’s home routine, as well. By bringing writing into the home, parents can help their children understand that writing is a crucial (and fun) part of everyday life and not merely another piece of homework to be dreaded. Just as all accomplished athletes must train and exercise, an accomplished writer must do the same. These tips and tricks will help your child build their writing skills and stamina and develop a passion for this vital and rewarding craft.