Are you concerned that children are so adept these days at learning through the social media and ever-abbreviating txtng world that there will be detrimental effects for basic English language skills? Knowing that it’s still very important to be able to write correctly, simply, and effectively in our modern world, remember that teaching reading and teaching writing go hand in hand.
When a good writer puts together a concise plan for how to do something, one wants to share it. Such was the case as I read author/homeschooling mom Barbara Frank’s special report entitled “Teaching Your Child to Write”. Here are a few suggestions given to parents preparing to help their children write well, (used with permission):
- Develop confidence in your own writing skills by writing in a journal as often as you can.
- Read good books for your own enjoyment; if you haven’t been much of a reader up until now, push yourself beyond the magazines sold at the checkout counter.
- Read a newspaper or visit an Internet news site regularly to keep up with current events and to absorb different writers’ styles.
- Buy several good dictionaries and a thesaurus, and keep them out where they can be used.
- Buy and study The Elements of Style by William Strunk, Jr. and E.B. White.
Barbara gives a formula: Inspiration + Mechanics = Success. Successful writing, (and I interpret that to mean for both the writer and a reader), starts with inspiration and a desire to write about a certain topic. “After that desire has expressed itself on the page (or the monitor screen), mechanics come into play. That’s called editing. Tightening and correcting one’s work isn’t nearly as fun as writing. But it’s necessary. As the parent, your job is not to teach writing as much as to facilitate it. You need to get that little flame of inspiration going in your child, and once it’s burning, you can add the mechanics very slowly so you don’t extinguish that flame.”
After offering suggestions applicable for small children and then progressing up through what works for teens, she ends with: “Most importantly, remember that children are encouraged by an appreciative audience, and that means you. Always take the time to read what your children write, whether it’s the awkwardly worded story of a younger child or the first novel of a teen. The encouragement you provide will do more for their desire to write well than any curriculum on the market.”