Writing is one of the most important skills a child will acquire as a student—and also one of the most difficult to master. Why? Eileen Huntington of Huntington Learning Center explains that writing involves a combination of skills. “Good writers are also good readers and have strong critical thinking and analytical skills, not to mention reading comprehension skills,” Huntington says. “It is something that takes lots of practice, which can be a challenge when children struggle with any of the underlying building blocks.”
Luckily, Huntington says there are a number of ways students can build their writing skills from the ground up. Here are a few tips to help students develop and improve their writing skills:
Read more. Many teachers say that the best way to become a better writer is to read more and read widely. There are many reasons for this: reading helps children expand their vocabulary, understand the many different uses of language and methods of storytelling or informative writing, and see grammar rules in action. It helps them appreciate the concept of voice in fiction and develop an understanding of how to share information in a clear, coherent, succinct way in nonfiction.
Brainstorm first. Strong writers often invest as much into the preparation required to write as the writing itself. For an essay or other writing assignment, your child should become adept at the brainstorming process. If given a specific topic, your child’s job is easier, but if not, encourage him or her to think through an approach to the topic before writing. Your child should ask questions such as: What is most interesting about this subject? Who am I speaking to? What facts about this topic might people not already know?
Get organized before writing. When writing anything from a two-page book report to a 15-page research paper to an opinion essay, an outline is a must. This helps writers organize their ideas and present them in the most logical, compelling way. Encourage your child to refer back to their brainstorming notes and come up with the “big idea” of what they’re writing and main three or four points, then confirm that they are answering the questions being asked of them (in an assignment). Even a loose outline will help your child write more clearly and stay on topic when working from a writing prompt or assignment.
Become a better editor. Strong writers know that no article, essay or story comes out perfect the first time. Teach your child to think of writing as a process that involves writing, editing, improving (and repeating if needed). After your child writes a draft, he or she should set it aside, then read with fresh eyes no sooner than a few hours later. At this point, your child should mark up the written piece for grammar and spelling mistakes as well as any areas that are unclear, do not follow the outline, do not make sense or could make his or her points stronger. It can be helpful for you to read your child’s work as well.
Write for fun. For many children, the mechanics of writing make it a frustrating subject—not to mention the fact that so much of what they write is required for school. Encourage your child to keep a journal, or even make it something you do together each evening. A daily journaling habit has numerous benefits for a child’s emotional well-being and stress level, but it is also a great way to think critically through ideas and express opinions and feelings in writing. Writing letters to a friend, grandparent or other family member is another valuable and fun activity.
Like any subject, writing is one where practice makes better. The more your child writes, the more he or she will improve—and perhaps even enjoy it. “Writing well involves using vivid language, organizing one’s thoughts and using good grammar and spelling,” says Last Name. “These are all things students can improve by reading frequently and seeking guidance from their teachers—and of course through plenty of repetition.”
If your child needs help building the skills that writing requires or would simply like some guidance on how to become a better writer, call Huntington Learning Center at 1-800-CAN-LEARN or visit www.huntingtonhelps.com.
Huntington is the tutoring and test prep leader. Its certified tutors provide individualized instruction in reading, phonics, writing, study skills, elementary and middle school math, Algebra through Calculus, Chemistry, and other sciences. It preps for the SAT and ACT, as well as state and standardized exams. Huntington programs develop the skills, confidence, and motivation to help students succeed and meet the needs of Common Core State Standards. Founded in 1977, Huntington’s mission is to give every student the best education possible. Learn how Huntington can help at www.huntingtonhelps.com. For franchise opportunities please visit www.huntingtonfranchise.com.
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