Good verbal and nonverbal communication is a critical skill that your teen will use for the rest of his or her life, but for many students, writing is a difficult task that they are not eager to practice. One great way to get your teen working on those writing and communication skills is by encouraging him or her to start a blog. For today's social-media-savvy students, blogging is a natural fit with the things they enjoy. And as an added benefit, it's a wonderful way for students to learn to express themselves better through writing.
Your teen should blog about something he or she is passionate about. Forcing your teen to blog about his or her English class may backfire on you, but if your teen loves movies, why not create a movie review blog? If he or she is on the road to college, how about a blog about those adventures? Fun is the key, as your teen is unlikely to keep up a blog that feels like homework.
Blogging is a chance to express one's views. Teens have opinions, and a blog is a great way for them to share those viewpoints. As with in-person discussions and written reports, your teen will learn through blogging that articulating his or her ideas to others takes focus and effort.
Blogging can help your teen with the brainstorming process. Just like a writing assignment for school, each blog post that your teen develops will require thinking and planning. This is a beneficial process-to identify a topic, distill it down into the key points to cover, and communicate those points thoughtfully.
A blog may even strengthen your teen's research skills. The more your teen gets into blogging, the more likely he or she is to delve into the topics he or she writes about. For example, if your teen blogs about music (favorite bands, perhaps), writing quality blog posts will require him or her to research those bands, cite sources and the like.
Blogs will gain feedback. Because it is a public and interactive forum, your teen's blog may develop a following of readers who offer their compliments and opinions in the blog's comments. They may challenge your teen's ideas, make suggestions, or make your teen think about things in new and different ways. Writing for an audience in this way will help your teen learn to reflect on his or her writing and strive to write better each and every time he or she posts.
Quality writing rules apply. Well-written blogs speak to their audience. They put forth compelling ideas in a clear way. They are concise, not wordy, and they keep people reading. Whether your teen is writing an essay for English class or a college application essay, these are valuable lessons on what it takes to write well.
Keep it clean. Remind your teen that a blog is public and visible to anyone-including college admissions officers, future employers, teachers and others. It's fine to express him or herself, but he or she should do so in a tasteful, tactful and professional way. A good rule of thumb is to never post anything on a blog (or anywhere online) that he or she wouldn't want one of those people to read.
Blogging has many educational benefits and may be a lot of fun for your teen. Most importantly, it can help your teen hone his or her communication and writing skills and learn to enjoy writing as a form of self expression.