Teachers mention over and over again how this generation of students struggle with writing. While it’s a frustrating challenge, in many cases, it’s not their fault. These students have grown up in an age where long-form communication is rarely required. Most students value short communications–snaps, texts, and memes, for example–over longer-form discourse–and may not even know what to do with the longer-form communications when they appear. In spite of these difficulties, however, it is possible to guide students to successfully learn how to write.
Strategy #1: Teach Prewriting
Prewriting skills don’t come naturally to many of this generation’s students–and little wonder. Instead of fleshing out their thoughts and working out how to expand their thinking to share it with others, they practice condensing their thoughts into the smallest pieces possible. When your child has a writing assignment, work with them through those difficult prewriting exercises. Try graphic organizers: Venn diagrams for comparison and contrast essays, thought webs, and hamburger-style organizers that teach how to separate the introduction and conclusion from the body of the essay, for example.
Strategy #2: Look for Opportunities to Write
It’s hard to write when there are no opportunities to put those thoughts and concepts on paper. Look for opportunities to get your student writing more often. Find a pen pal and encourage your child to write them regularly, asking questions as it becomes relevant. Encourage your child to put their stories on paper. Buy a journal and allow them to go over their thoughts and emotions. Consider sitting down together and writing out the stories that go with family photographs in a scrapbook that you’ll love looking back on in future years. The more often your child writes, the more comfortable they’ll become with the entire process, and the easier it will be for them to organize their thoughts.
Strategy #3: Read Their Writing Out Loud
Many children who are more verbally articulate struggle when the time comes to transfer those words to paper. By reading their writing out loud, they’ll get a better idea of how those written words sound and how they can change them in the future to communicate more effectively. You may also find that it’s effective to allow your child to verbally record the things they’d like to write on an audio recording device, then transcribe those words to their paper.
Strategy #4: Find Topics that Interest Your Child
If you want your child to be engaged in the writing process, it’s important to choose topics that will be of interest to them. Often, children will choose from a list of topics offered by the teacher without putting any thought into it. After all, to them, it’s just another boring writing assignment! Instead, take the time to discuss potential topics together and find one that will engage and interest your child.
Strategy #5: Offer Constructive Feedback
One-on-one feedback is one of the most effective ways to help your child grow as a writer. Take the time to sit down together and go over their essays, papers, and other materials. Ask some of these questions:
- Is the main idea clearly stated and defined? Is there a way that your child could be clearer?
- Are the paragraphs well-organized?
- Does your child have a habit of rambling on or going off-topic?
- What’s the most important thing your student needs to fix before they turn in the paper?
Keep in mind that your child’s paper doesn’t have to be perfect before they turn it in. They’re still learning–and they’ve got plenty of time to work on their skills! Instead, help them focus on a gradual improvement to make with each paper or essay they write.
Strategy #6: Revise and Rewrite by Hand
With computers so easily accessible, most students prefer to type their papers instead of writing them by hand. The process of writing by hand–especially when it comes time to make corrections–may make a substantial impact on the way your child processes the material. While it’s fine to type the final copy of a paper or essay, encourage them to write out early drafts by hand. This will lead to better-quality writing in future drafts.
Teaching children who struggle with writing is an ongoing process. The more opportunities you’re able to seize, however, the better your child will be able to commit those words to paper. If you need a school where your child will be encouraged to improve their writing skills, contact us today to learn more about what we can offer.