This page aims to give lots of suggestions and ideas for making writing fun and meaningful at home and improving achievement levels at school.
General Tips and Ideas
The basis of all good writing is dependent on knowing lots of words and being able to join them together in interesting ways.
Encourage your child to:
– explain a game or activity
– describe a person, place, picture or thing
– retell stories
– talk about things they have done e.g. visits, day at school – encourage detail
– predict what might happen next in a story, TV programme or sequel to a film
– play word games
Be a writing model and encourage your child to write alongside you for real purposes e.g. shopping lists, birthday/Christmas lists, labels, invitations, thank you letters, emails to friends, postcards, cards for relatives, scrap books of holidays/hobbies/special events, diaries, posters for real events, short stories or poems for family members, menus, texting, bedroom or house rules.
Have an exciting selection of writing materials available e.g. a range of pencils, pens, coloured crayons, writing icing, writing soaps for bathtime.
Praise your child for trying and don’t dwell on mistakes. Focus on content and enjoyment of writing for fun and for purpose.
There are many way to get younger children to write.
Encourage your child to look at print on road signs, food packets, in books, magazines and catalogues. Go to the library and read favourite books over and over again.
Try fun activities that strengthen your child’s hand muscles e.g. cutting, painting, squeezing playdough, picking up small things with tweezers and pegs.
Use magnetic letters and make small words together. Leave a message on the fridge door and encourage your child to reply.
Praise play writing – early squiggles and marks show that your child is beginning to understand writing.
Make up a story together about one of their toys. You write the story as they say the words. Make up a little booklet. Take photos and use the pictures in the book.
Buy stickers of a favourite TV programme or book. Make your own little book about it.
Let your child write their own Christmas cards, thank you letters, cards or emails to friends or relatives, invitations to a party, or a list of things they need to take on holiday.
Cut up letters from magazines for children to make their names and short sentences.
Make handwriting interesting – practise drawing letters in sand, water, or paint, use white boards, playdough, pastry or shaving foam.
As your child begins to develop in writing, it is still important to encourage writing at home. Below are some more ideas which you can use at home.
Play word-building games to develop descriptive vocabulary such as Boggle, Scrabble, Guess Who, ‘What am I?’ (one person thinks of something to describe. They give clues by describing it, without saying its name. Other players have to guess what it is with as few clues as possible.)
Encourage your child to sound out words for themselves rather than telling them how to spell words correctly. This encourages them to think for themselves and to be prepared to have a go. They will learn the correcting spelling over time.
Create silly sentences or tongue twisters using alliteration (a group of words that all begin with the same sound) e.g. Sad Sid slipped on Sam’s salad sandwich.
Let children write part of shopping lists and then let them be responsible for carrying the list and finding certain items.
After making a cake, doing a craft activity or playing a game, challenge children to write instructions for someone else to follow.
Make up fun ways to remember how to spell difficult words e.g. Big Elephants Can Actually Understand Small Elephants = because, what has a hat, when has a hen.
Play ‘I Spy’ and ‘Hangman’ which encourage use of sounds and spellings.
Encourage your child to learn weekly spellings and phonic group spellings. Write the spelling in sentences with accurate punctuation and practice high frequency words and handwriting. Also ensure your child completes homework on time, take an interest in what they are doing, and praise effort.
More Able Writers
Finding new experiences for your child to write is important. You could:
Help your child write a letter to their favourite author. Details can be found on the internet.
Write information pages or booklets about a hobby or something they find interesting e.g. dinosaurs, class topics, sport stars etc. Illustrate and label.
Encourage them to use paragraphs for blocks of information.
Write postcards from holidays and record holiday events in a diary that can be shared with friends or family.
After your child has produced written homework ask them to proof read their work for accuracy. After they have done this, have a look at the piece yourself.
Encouraging Reluctant Writers
If your child has barriers towards writing, or low self-esteem as a writer, praising and valuing your child’s writing is very important. Your child may need support when they write and may need you to talk through their ideas first and help with composing and structure.
Help your child go over problem spellings. It is extremely frustrating for children to have to battle with spelling and handwriting when they want to get their ideas down on paper. Knowing high frequency spellings will aid the flow of writing and enable the use of a vocabulary rich language. (Consider being trapped into writing ‘big’ when you really wanted to write ‘enormous’). Encourage children to sound out and have a go at more tricky words or give them the spellings.
Remember that writing does not have to be lengthy or boring!
Writing for real purposes is more meaningful and rewarding for children and creates a fun and interesting way for children to develop their writing skills.
Lots of links to encourage writing
How to write your best story ever!