- Books, Literature, and Writing
Free Online Writing Courses: Teach Kids to be Better Writers
improve writing skills for kids
It’s really never too soon to start teaching basic writing skills, and with this installment of my free online writing courses, I’ll provide you with some tips that can improve writing skills for kids. I use these with my grandchildren, and it’s already paying off. My oldest one, Jonathan, is in second grade, and according to his teachers, he’s the best writer in the class. I don’t take all the credit for this, but I’m sure a couple of my strategies helped. Maybe he was born with a great imagination, and my informal instruction allowed him to harness it and channel it into his writing and storytelling.
Improve writing skills - Increase vocabulary
Obviously, kids begin learning words at a very young age. At that point, their brains are like sponges, and they’re capable of learning a lot more than many parents realize. Take full advantage of this learning capacity whenever you can. I do this in an informal way. I began when the grands were very young by reading to them. Whenever we’d come across a word I wasn’t sure they knew the meaning of, I’d take time out to explain the meaning of the word to them. After they understood the meaning, I’d work on application – using the word correctly in a sentence. Knowing and using more words is the foundation for writing and is needed to improve writing skills.
This can also be done while watching movies and television shows. When you teach a new vocabulary word to kids, use the word in conversation a few times to instill the meaning, especially if it’s a more difficult word.
Improve writing skills - Details and descriptive words
Details and descriptive words are very important in writing, and this is another way you can improve writing skills with kids. We sometimes play a game that addresses this aspect of writing skills. Again, this can be done informally. For example, you can choose any object and see how many adjectives the child can come up with in describing it. Just about any item will do. Take a pencil, for example. Adjectives your child might come up with include hard, long, skinny, yellow, etc. Make it a fun contest to keep it interesting.
Improve writing skills - Cause and effect
Cause and effect is another important aspect to many forms of writing. You can use story books, cartoons, and movies to teach this skill. When something happens in the narrative, stop and ask the child, “Why do you think that happened?” You can also ask the child to anticipate what will happen next in the plot: “Okay, so Chicken Little thinks the sky is falling. What do you think he’s going to do?” When the child answers, ask him why he thinks the way he does.
Another way to hone future writing skills is by using progressive stories. This works especially well if you’re working with more than one kid. You begin an oral story, and each child will add to it, taking up where the former player left off. Not only does this help with cause and effect, it also allows kids to use their imagination.
Cause and effect is extremely important in both writing skills and reading and comprehension skills. It’s a big part of many standardized tests, too.
Improve writing skills - Organization skills
Writing skills also include organization. Kids need to understand that stories should have a definite beginning, middle, and end. Later, the same will be true of essays they’ll have to write. The use of progressive stories, mentioned above, will help with this. Another way to increase organizational writing skills is to get the child to make up oral stories on their own.
My granddaughters love to play this “game” with me! They’re obsessed with scary stories, for some reason, so we take turns telling each other such tales. Keep you expectations reasonable, however. You won’t get a Stephen King novel from a four-year-old child, but after a little practice, you’ll be surprised with some of the stories they come up with!
Observing details and being able to recall them can also help with writing skills. One way to do this is to have the child re-tell a favorite story, cartoon episode, or movie in their own words. A year or so ago, Jonathan had viewed one of the Star Wars movies, and I asked him about it. He talked for two hours, nonstop, re-telling the movie plot to me! He was six at the time. With younger children, use something short and simple, of course.
Read, read, read!
I can’t stress enough how important reading is, especially to young children. They’re never too young to be read aloud to. Make reading or story time a part of every day. Set aside a few minutes to spend this quality time with your kids. Allow them to ask questions whenever they want, and you should ask them questions, too, if they’re old enough to understand and answer. Doing so is a great way to check for comprehension.
If you want to learn more about improving writing skills, check out my free online writing courses. I’ve covered a variety of topics, and I’ll be adding more. To utilize my free online writing courses, click the links below!
More free online writing courses:
- Norman Conquest and the English Language
The effects of the Battle of Hastings and the Norman Conquest on the English language are discussed. Printed and spoken examples are included.
- How to Improve Writing Skills with Word Games
Tips for improving writing skills by using word games and writing exercises, provided by a retired writing and literature teacher.
- How to Improve Reading Comprehension
How to improve reading comprehension, with reading strategies from a retired teacher.
- Poetry Analysis: How To
Tips for writing a poetry analysis, from a retired high school teacher.
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