Improving Writing Skills with Intermediate Readers —

Improving Writing Skills with

Intermediate Readers — Part III


General Manager of Family Literacy Centers, Inc. 

This article discusses ways that parents can help children of ages 9 and 10 become better writers. You might wonder why so much emphasis is placed on writing when the topic of this series is reading. It’s because reading and writing abilities develop together. Studies show that when

reading and writing are taught together, the benefits are greater than when they are taught separately. In real life reading and writing often go together. For example, a person may receive a letter, read it and then answer it. 

Helping youngsters ages 9 and 10 with their writing can be a lot of fun and very rewarding. They use cursive writing more and know the value of writing. Usually they already have acquired the skills and the experience to write something they can be proud of. Many can write easily with the aid of the Internet and e-mail. All you have to do is provide the environment, the tools, and some ideas. It’s important to serve as a good example. Youngsters learn about writing by observing more skilled people and participating with them. So let your children see you write, both for work and pleasure.  

Another thing parents can do is to give their child courage to write. Writing takes courage, and most people are insecure because they are afraid someone will criticize their grammar, spelling, or the like. Children are the same. Always show appreciation for your child’s writing efforts. Be very positive. 

PARENT:

That is a super story! Well done! May I keep it?

Respond to the ideas in the writing. People who

write often need a reader.

PARENT:

I especially like the part where you described the

mountain. I can just see it. 

Probably it’s best not to be critical of grammar, punctuation, spelling or handwriting. Nothing is as motivating as praise and acceptance. Another effective motivator is a collection of appealing writing materials. Keep a supply of paper and writing implements, starting with plain paper and pencils. As your budget permits, add crayons, colored paper, notebooks, and scissors. When you are able, add

things like colored pencils, stickers, watercolors, sticky note pads, and anything else that your youngster might have fun with. A chalkboard and chalk or whiteboard and markers are fun to have around the house. 

Plan to join with children from time to time when they’re involved in a writing activity. If you write together, youngsters will learn more – just as they learn more when you read together. Here are some ideas for writing activities that both of you can enjoy: Journal writing is a very rewarding activity. Journals are a place for personal thoughts, memories, feelings or ideas. 

MOM:

I love the smell of new books. We’re ready to

write on our first page.

CHILD:

I don’t know what to write.

MOM:

I’m going to start by describing the day you were

born. I was so happy to hold you that first day.

You can write anything you want. Your favorite

memory. What happened today. What you like

to do. Talk about what you did when you were

little. Your friends.

CHILD:

I’m going to tell about when we had the water

fight. 

Some parents set aside five or ten minutes in the evening for journal time. 

PARENT:

Here’s what I think would be fun. You could

make a book for Jenny.

CHILD:

Okay. Cool. What kind?

PARENT:

Any kind. A story book. Or a number book. It

can have a cover and everything. Then you can

read it to Jenny. She’ll really like it.

CHILD:

This is the “five” page. See there are five dresses.

JENNY:

Five dresses. They are pretty.

CHILD [READING]:

“One.” One cookie for Jenny. 

Most children like to create a photo essay. Provide the photos. Then let your child arrange them and write about them. There are many kinds of writing activities that children like to do. If you work at it you can find something that interests your child. If your child likes music, encourage them to write original lyrics for a popular song. They could even compose original songs and lyrics. Encourage home made greeting cards - for Christmas or another holiday, birthday, or Valentines Day. These are less expensive and lots more fun to get than commercial cards. Organize situations where lists need to be written, and assign them to your child. Grocery lists, lists of friends

to be invited to parties, lists of books they have read, gift lists. Have a family post office with boxes for each person so that family members can write notes to one another. Think about writing and creating comic strips, newspapers, a script for a TV show or play. 

For experience in letter writing, ages 8 and 9 are good ages to arrange for pen pals. Other writing opportunities are “thank you” notes, telephone and address books, and communication through the Internet. 

CHILD:

I can’t write thank you notes. I feel stupid.

MOM:

It’s easy. First say “Thank you for the CD.”

CHILD:

Then what.

MOM:

You could say what you like about it. I know

you like it because you play it so often.

CHILD:

“I play it all day. It gives mom a headache.”

MOM:

That is a terrific thank you. Grandma will be

really pleased that you like her present.

CHILD:

Can you help me write a thank you note to

Uncle Joe? 

Start at your child’s ability level. If writing is hard, they can draw a picture and write one sentence describing it. If they are more advanced, encourage stories and longer journal or diary entries. In time you’ll both experience the pay-off.

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