All of a sudden it feels like spring around here and I’ve got growth on my mind!
Here are five simple ways to help your child grow as a writer this spring:
- Gather data: Go for a walk and ask your child some questions about writing. If you were going to write something that has to do with spring, what would it be? What does spring smell like, look like, feel like? What kind of spring activities would you love to write about? While you’re chatting, take a few minutes to check in about writing in general: What are you doing with your writing lately? Are you into writing about a favorite topic or character? What are you doing well in your writing? What would you like to do better? Why walk and talk? Sometimes it’s easier for kids to reflect when the pressure is off, during a time when no one is expecting them to write.
- Set a goal: Once you’re back inside, jot down a few notes from your discussion. In this awesome post, Melissa Taylor suggests focusing on three positives and one suggestion each time you help a child edit writing. You could use the same idea here. From the conversation with your child and from what you’ve observed, note three things your child is generally doing well in writing and one goal for improvement. Write them down on a piece of paper and put them someplace where you both can see it and refer to it often.
- Look for examples: Find examples of high-quality writing that matches your child’s current writing interest and style. If baseball is the big thing this spring for your family, look at some sports articles in the news, or check out some baseball books. Talk about what the author does to make that style of writing effective. Look for common patterns consistent with that style. Notice the tone. Is it formal? Casual? Think about the type of person who enjoys reading this style of writing. Look for examples of how the author writes with the audience in mind.
- Talk it through: Plan a piece of springtime writing together. Keep the example texts in mind as you plan. What would you say first to get the readers’ attention? How would you lead into the meat of the writing? Think of some awesome descriptive words and phrases. How should you wrap it up? Talking through a piece of writing before you start is a great way to brainstorm and organize your thinking, and for reluctant writers, it really takes the pressure off and allows them to focus on the message rather than the mechanics of writing.
- Write! Try a five minute family writing time for the next month or two. If it’s nice, try writing on the back porch. Give everyone a notebook and dedicate five silent minutes each day to drop everything and write. (Grown-ups too!) Five minutes isn’t much but it adds up, and five-minute chunks are less daunting than longer periods of writing time. Encourage kids to try writing a piece in the style you’ve been talking about. They can add a bit every night until it’s finished. Or, just write something new and concise each time. Anything goes. Lists, stories, comics, informational writing, letters, random thoughts… After the five minutes is up, ask you child to check on progress toward the general writing goal you discussed, but keep things fun and lighthearted.
Want a few more ideas to help writing bloom this spring?
- Writing the Core Outdoors: Short writing prompts using the outdoors as inspiration.
- Springtime Stick-a-Story: A crafty, springy, storytelling activity.
- Spring writing prompts from Minds in Bloom: Inspire ideas for writing, or use them as discussion starters at dinner!
- One of my very favorite writing resources (for any season): The Write Start: A Guide to Nurturing Writing at Every Stage, from Scribbling to Forming Letters and Writing Stories, by Jennifer Hallissy (affiliate link)
And… here are some more fun ways to move the learning outdoors this spring: