It is an incredible time in a child’s life when they learn to express themselves through the written word. This is also the point at which many families find themselves plastering every available surface at home with their child’s writing pieces that range from labeled pictures to short stories about a great time they had at the park. As adults we know how to admire our children’s work, but we might not always know what to say in order to get children thinking about their writing and trying to practice their writing skills at home.
The first step to helping children reflect on their writing and practice their skills is knowing what to notice when your child brings their writing home. In order to encourage your child to keep working on his writing skills, make sure you praise his effort while still providing valuable feedback and suggestions. Here are a few key features to notice, and some suggestions for what to say:
- Does the piece use detail to paint a picture? “I love how you make sure to describe everything that is going on in this scene! I can really picture your story in my mind because of all the detail you used here. Can you label what is going on in the picture?”
- Is it easy to follow? Is it clear and organized? “I can really understand what you are trying to say here because you tell your story so clearly. You‘ve written down what happens first, then what happens next and then how it ends. It’s so easy to follow! Is there anything missing from the story that you could add?”
- Have they told the whole story? “I’m really happy that you decided to write this story for me because it is so exciting and so much happens! Can you tell me any more about what your characters were thinking or feeling?”
- Did they use exciting verbs and adjectives to tell their story? “You really use a lot of description to tell me how your characters were feeling during your story. Can you think of any juicy words that you can use in your story to really wow your reader? What word could you use here instead of happy?
The most important thing you can do to encourage your child to write more is to praise their efforts! There is a lot of work behind every single piece that your child shares with you and having you show enthusiasm for their work and congratulate them will only encourage your child to become the great writer you know they can be.
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