Writing is an essential skill for this generation. Email, texting, written reports … A facility with language can only be a good thing. Since strong writing shares several traits, the good news is that even if writing isn’t your thing, there are still many things you can do to help your child become a strong writer. We’ll take them one at a time over the next several weeks.
One of the most important traits of good writing is the effective use of ORGANIZATION. Tell me a story that begins with one idea, hop to another and back again and you’ve lost me. You’ve told me a story that was impossible to follow because the organization was lacking. There was no beginning, middle and end. There was only a jumble of facts.
You can help your young child, up to grade 3 or so, with organization by having them tell you about their day from start to finish. Start with the morning, make your way through to lunch and on to dinner. Everything they need to know to tell you the story in step-by-step fashion has occurred in step-by-step fashion. That makes it easy because all your child needs to do is to tell you what actually happened that day.
Once he can do that easily, have him help you make up a story. You can begin by saying anything from, “Once there was a boy who wanted ice cream so he ….” Let your child fill in the next step. Once he’s filled that in, ask him, “then what?” Continue in that way until he’s told you an entire story. The more often you do this, the more facile your child will become with putting events in order.
For older kids, ages nine and up, help them organize their thoughts by asking them to tell you about something they know about. It can be about a type of music, playing an instrument, ordering pizza. It doesn’t matter what because the important thing is to give them practice with a strong lead (first sentence), body (details and examples), and conclusion (last sentence). For instance, a well organized piece about pizza might be: “There are many types of pizza. Some has pepperoni. Some has sausage and peppers. Some even has pineapple. Some like only one type or another. I like them all.”
Make it a game at dinner time. Play it as you’re driving around on the weekend. Just keep it fun and pick topics that interest your child and you’re good to go!