THIRTY WAYS TO HELP CHILDREN WITH WRITING
1 Teach them how to mind map and brainstorm ideas for a story. Model it for them. You do the spider’s legs and write their ideas for them. This releases the strain of putting words on paper. Each leg becomes a sentence – later a paragraph. They choose the order.
2 Let them dictate a story or the answers to homework and you write them down. The children can then copy them. This is NOT cheating. They are the child’s ideas.
3 When they have dictated their thoughts to you. Read it back to them but get them to follow your finger as you run it under the words. Do this once or twice. Then get them to read it WITH YOU. Only when you are sure they will succeed should you get them to read it alone.
4 Play consequences. Each person writes something down and folds the paper to hide it. Pass it on and the next person writes something. Parents please keep it simple with small words that are easily read. At the end, each child/parent/person reads out the story which won’t make sense and everyone has a good laugh.
5 Use every opportunity! Been to a film? Write three things that happened in the film. Everyone must listen when they are read out.
6 Make shopping lists together. Make a birthday present wish list, a Christmas wish list. Stick them on the fridge. Have a purpose (what better than that?) for writing.
7 Write a letter to a friend asking the friend to tea. Good reason to write!
8 Write and tell Nanny what you want for Christmas. Excellent reason to write.
9 Find their passion. This can take a while. Try lots of different activities – horseriding, gymnastics, dancing, art, singing. When you find what motivates them, get them to write on the subject using the guidelines on this page.
10 Let them use a computer, laptop or iphone (notes) to write a story. This is much more fun for a young child than giving them pencil and paper. Print out the result if you can. Make no more than three corrections and only by discussing them with the child. For example Tom misspelt the word ‘birthday’. He wrote ‘dithday’. Never tell the child off for any mistake. It is NOT careless. Their brain works differently to most children. Discuss the first sound in ‘birthday’ and change it for them – add the ‘r’ for ‘ir’ and explain the difference between bithday and birthday. Let them make a card for a friend using this word correctly.
11 For spelling mistakes – on a separate sheet write the correct word in large joined up handwriting. Get the child to write over the top. They should say the word as they write it. This is multi-sensory ie it uses more senses speaking, listening, watching and (writing action)
12 Write the first few words of a sentence and let them complete it. Could be a game.
13 Ensure the child always succeeds. This may mean writing a word they ask you for on another piece of paper. It may mean gently prompting the child if they read something wrong in their writing.
14 Never criticise as this can put children off. For example, do not criticise their handwriting when they have laboured over a piece of work. They can’t get everything right at once.
15 There are free software programs on the internet but one good investment is a voice recognition program. When the child has practised and trained the software to recognise their voice they can speak to the computer and see their words come on to the screen by magic! This is not a cop out or opt out. Don’t let anyone tell you it is!!
16 Praise, praise, praise everything they do.
17 If they never complete work in school so never get to see their work put up on the wall, ask the teacher if they can type up a piece of work and have it displayed so the other children can admire their thoughts and imagination. This is wonderful for raising self-esteem.
18 Encourage family members to write letters and emails to the child. Get the child to respond. Explain all the above to the grandparents or aunties ie there must be no criticism and no over correcting. They could choose one spelling to mention when they write back. Only you can do 3 corrections!
19 Never learn/teach one word when there are others of the same pattern. For example, there are several words with the ‘ay’ pattern. If they spell today/todai show them play, way, stay, clay, may. Then make a funny sentence with all the words eg We will stay and may play with the clay all day.
20 Use 3D plastic letters on the fridge to demonstrate spellings. Leave them there for a couple of days. Keep shuffling the letters and get them to put them back in the correct sequence.
21 Only deal with one pattern at a time. One a day helps the spelling to stay!
22 Encourage writing with coloured pens, art brushes, chalk and in sand. Make it fun.
23 Get the child to paint a picture and then write a description – even two or three words will do.
24 Children should always draw a picture of something they have written about.
25 Make writing fun. Make it get results. Let them show their work to admiring grandparents.
26 Buy the child a diary and get them to write in it what they are going to do (eg in the holidays) or, in the evening, they could write down what they have done each day.
27 Buy the child an address book where they can write friends’ names and addresses. This is establishing a good habit.
28 Let the children write in different coloured pens – each word a different colour.
29 Make a treasure hunt together with clues hidden over the house. They can write the clues.
30 Let them see you writing. Be a role model. Read out the letter (or email) you have written to their grandmother. Let them add a post script. If you are a writer, your child will be too.