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Writing Tips for Kids

By Natasha Stiller

Kids dismiss writing because they get frustrated easily or think they can't do an adequate job. With some tools and motivation, children can easily convey their thoughts and ideas. It often takes us thinking outside of the box for them to be motivated and encouraged.

Writing Tips for Kids: Make it Fun

Writing is often a sore subject for many adults, let alone children. I’ve seen people sit and stew over the composition of an email for over an hour, before they finally felt it was adequate enough to send. This is extremely excessive. Writing really shouldn’t boil down to the nitty gritty of perfection. Writing should be seen by kids as fun and a way to entertain their imagination and explore through the creative process.

For younger children, pre-K and beginning kindergarten, they should be able to draw pictures and dictate the meaning of words. If we as adults sit and write down exactly what the kids have said, they will gain an understanding that what they have to say is important and will continue the process of dictation.

As children age and are prepared to hold a writing utensil, they will start to ask how to spell certain words, or creatively explore spelling on their own by sounding out what they want to say. It is imperative that we help them with this process so that they gain confidence in their abilities and don’t give up because they don’t have assistance. Offer praise. Kids love to hear when they are doing a job well done. As teachers and parents this is a very rewarding time to see the kids explore on their own.

Eventually, these same children will be writing independently in journals or adding elaborate details to their illustrations. They will find writing enjoyable unless they hit a stumbling block along the way.

Writing Tips for Kids: Strengthen Those Fingers

Some children do not enjoy writing. Some children in the younger age bracket of pre-K to kindergarten do not have very strong fine motor skills and need help strengthening the muscles in their hand. Pincher type activities can help them with this. Activities where they manipulate small items with clothespins or tongs help their hands get stronger. Also, playing with playdoh or in the dirt, moving around the fingers, wrist and arms will help them build stronger muscles as well. These are great prewriting tips for kids. As their hands develop they will also be able to write without hesitation.

Students with weak fine motor skills or small hands might also need to hold something in their hand to get the correct grip for a writing item. Consider using a large pom pom in the palm of their hand, held by the fingers not forming a pencil grip. You can also attach a few beads to a piece of yard or string and have a child hold on to a bead while they form their hands in a pencil grip. This will ensure they are holding the pencil, crayon, or marker efficiently. If they struggle with this, just give them a very tiny piece of crayon or pencil so that they have to hold it in correct formation.

Maintaining this pencil grip is important for younger students as they often apply too much pressure when they write and then they don’t want to write very much because they’re hands hurt.

Working with students on these basics when they’re younger will definitely help them be motivated to write and use their imaginations when writing.

For some people, writing is just a chore, no matter how much fun it’s made to be, or how much they might have enjoyed the idea of writing. Helping kids articulate their ideas is something that takes time and practice, much like anything else in life. Boys in particular often do not have the motivation to write, and when they do will lack detail to get the quickest message that completes the requirement of an assignment. Helping kids navigate through their ideas is helpful and will propel them to add more details to their stories.

Writing Tips for Kids: Make Writing Fun

Mind mapping or charting is an excellent tool to help kids. You can take a basic principle, say summer, and from this one word, written in the middle of a piece of paper, perhaps even with drawings, you can write as much as possible about summer. The paper will generally start to get covered with drawings and information. From here, you can have your child or student start to write a few sentences or more about summer. They can take their original thoughts and pictures to add more structure, forming complete thoughts and sentences.

For more structured work, say paragraphs or even five paragraph essays, I like the concept of the hamburger model. You can actually get a picture of the different parts of a hamburger to emphasize this idea. The main parts of the assigned work should be written in these pieces of the hamburger. The bread is obviously the opening and closing, where the meat and other toppings comprise of the remaining focal points.

Writing tips presented to parents, teachers, or other students can also come in the form of a question. You could ask, ‘Can you tell the silliest story in a comic book strip’? Not all kids like to write in paragraph form, but once have been given more creative freedom, might jump at the opportunity.

Writing can be presented in a variety of ways that are strategic, yet still convey the intent you need it to. I hope these writing tips can help you engage students in writing. I always hope that when the information is shared with them in a fun way that they will always enjoy articulating their thoughts to others.