Perhaps writing isn’t at the top of your agenda right now. You may be more concerned about making sure they’re eating enough vegetables or getting exercise. But I can assure you that writing (just like reading) is fundamental to your child’s development. And you can’t rely on the teachers to do all the work to make your child a better writer.
Why is writing important?
- It’s practical – every day you need to write to order things, complete letters, make requests. Alright, we’re now living in a technology heavy age. But still, you need a basic understanding of language to function daily.
- It’s a necessary tool for education – your child will need to write to complete their assessments and exams in school (for now at least).
- Your job might (literally) depend on it – in order to get through the door of any job, you need a complete resumé. Or your job may involve administrative work, writing reports or articles (yay!)
- Communication – whilst we are no longer sending telegrams and letters. Emails, text messages and social media all require some form of writing (albeit in a slightly informal way).
- Writing can be therapeutic – we may have outgrown the diary entry age but some people (myself included) find writing a very soothing outlet.
What’s school got to do with it?
In an ideal world, you would send little Fred off to school and learn every single thing he needs to know there. And he would leave at 18 a polished and prepared human ready to face the world.
I’m sorry to tell you but this simply is not the case.
You know the hard work of your child’s teacher. And I am definitely not discrediting any teaching methods. But I am very much aware that one teacher is responsible for the education of up to 30 (sometimes more) children.
Whilst your child is the centre of your universe (and every teacher treats each child equally) this does mean that your child won’t get a bespoke learning experience.
School is like the building blocks for your child’s learning. Think of it like when you’re learning to drive. You don’t actually learn to drive until you’ve passed your test, do you? The real learning happens when you have to navigate a motorway with 4 lanes or fight for the last parking space at Tesco.
Teachers give your child the tools to access language and literacy (to name a couple) but it is down to you to put it into practice.
So, what can parents do to help?
I promise, it’s not as hard as you think to make your child a better writer. It also won’t involve hours of your precious time. You can actually build it into your daily or weekly routines or existing habits. Habits can be hard to break but they are actually easy to form.
Before I reveal my tips to you, I need you to completely forget any preconceived ideas you have of what writing looks like.
It’s not sat at the kitchen table with a black pen getting Fred to write a story about his day. Unless of course that’s what interests him? In which case, go for it!
Before you get started, make sure you have:
- Space to write – doesn’t have to be as formal as a desk or table. As long as there’s a flat, clear space for them to write on, that works. Could even be the floor? Some of my students love to write laying on their stomachs. It feels less formal that way…
- Get your tools – don’t go spending tonnes in WHSmith on the best handwriting pens. If you have a little rummage around, you’ll probably find you have enough at home. Crayons, felt tips, coloured pens are an excellent start.
- Lots of paper – Too much paper. The more the better. Think more is more when it comes to paper. If they get into a ‘flow’ we don’t want it interrupted by lack of paper.
Everyday hacks to make your child a better writer
- Make sure your child sees you writing – whether it’s your shopping list, application form, a note for your neighbour. If they see you doing it, they’ll be inclined to copy.
- Ask your child to tell you stories – if your child isn’t a confident writer, you could write down their story and they could finish it or even draw a picture to go with it.
- Pictures and illustrations still count – if they have a writing implement in their hand and they’re making marks on a page (hopefully not furniture or walls), that’s writing folks!
- Have a family message board – this could be a pack of sticky notes or a whiteboard, either way it’s an opportunity for them to be creative independently and on their terms!
- Display their work – this works excellently with my students. If your child sees their drawing or writing on the fridge it will make them feel confident and accomplished.
Writing is essential and can’t be left at the classroom door. It doesn’t have to be time-consuming or expensive. Just like riding a bike or learning to walk, the more you do it, the easier and better you become! Follow my tips and make your child a better writer in no time!