Many parents know that one of the best ways to increase their child's reading skills is to have them read every day. But did you know that writing every day can be equally important? As with most skills, practicing writing extends benefits for you child across the curriculum. Your child is, of course, practicing putting her/his thoughts on paper. This practice can help a student respond more quickly, accurately, and thoroughly to written or oral questions in any subject. In addition, as your child works on their composition, she/he is working on many skills essential for reading comprehension. These skills include, but aren't limited to:
- Author's purpose - why are they writing what they are writing, and to whom?
- Main idea - what are they writing about?
- Facts and Details - does their writing contain enough information/details to make sense to the reader?
- Character Analysis - who is being written about? Is there enough being said about the character for the reader to understand who they are and to support the story?
The key to writing journals is to use them every day. In the beginning, parents can start with a short time limit of 10-15 minutes. Don't worry to much about how much is being written or the content. Whether your child chooses to write about their day or about an imaginary friend isn't important either. The goal is to start developing a habit.
Once your child has become accustomed to writing a little every day, start focusing a little more on how much is being written. The best way to encourage your child to write more is not necessarily to focus on how many sentences, etc. are being written. Focus instead on what is being said in the writing. To get your child to write a little bit more every day, ask questions that they might need to clarify about what they have already written. You can focus on the simple Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How questions to accomplish this. Remember though, it's not about perfection, it's about practice and developing a habit. Ask only one or 2 questions in the beginning. Help your child learn to add more information in on their own, and grow from there.
Some students do better with journal prompts, some do better writing on their own. You will need to decide what works best for your child. Some references for journal writing and journal prompts are listed below.
One of the best things that you can do to support a good writing habit in your child is to write yourself - model that writing is important. If you can write at the same time, great. If not, make sure your child knows that you are writing too. Share your writing with your child. The conversations generated by sharing your writing with each other will be enriching educationally and to your relationship as well.