The University of Iowa

Keeping My Kids on the Write Track


Posted on: July 17, 2015

Although we have been working hard to make reading a priority every day this summer, writing has (unintentionally) taken a backseat. I started thinking about how my children had barely picked up a pencil in over a month. So, I decided we needed to do something about it. The following are some fun and easy ways we decided to make writing practice more consistent in our daily routines.

Make Time

Writing practice is just as crucial as reading practice.  Writing for twenty minutes per day is equally as important as reading the same amount of time. This was a great reminder for me and we started implementing daily writing time once the kids are finished with breakfast. This time of day in summer is a quiet time and should lend itself to the kids having some think time.

Write Together

We regularly make a grocery list together before we go shopping as one way to practice writing for a purpose. Writing chore lists or thank you notes are another great way we can write together as a family. If I can get the kids to write thank you notes, it is one less thing on my plate after each gifting occasion.

Make it Real

Kids should have real world opportunities to write. Emailing family members is one way I decided to show my kids how to write for a purpose. We recently returned home from visiting our family in North Carolina. Griffin had such a wonderful time going to the fire station where his grandpa is a volunteer fire fighter. The fire crew even said that Griffin is an official Junior Firefighter and that they would make him his own locker for the next time he comes to visit. So, naturally, when I asked Griffin whom he wanted to email, his grandpa was his first choice.

I gave Griffin my computer and had him write (type) a brief note to his grandpa. I asked him to write four sentences or questions. He was very concerned with spelling correctly. I told him that sound spelling is okay, as long as his grandpa can understand the words. The ideas of what to write came quickly, but the typing did not. He’s not too familiar with where all of the letters are on the keyboard, so he did a lot of “hunting and pecking.” I noticed that he will need some keyboarding practice in the future.

Since the moment we sent off the email, he has asked me several times if his grandpa has responded. He is so eager to receive an email back and I think these exchanges will help motivate him as a writer even more. This morning Griffin even got out letter stamps and started stamping another letter to his grandpa.  

Since Ryan is just beginning her writing development, I thought it would be fun to let her text her Nana in order to practice writing. Ryan likes to send emoticons via texts, so I thought that would motivate her to write a few words as well. Since we were practicing writing, I had her type out whole words instead of abbreviating, which is common with texting. I wanted to give her a real world example of writing but still have her practice writing whole words. Ryan was so excited when her Nana responded with several sentences and emoticons built into her response. We read the responses together—I read the words and Ryan read the pictures.

Encourage Keeping a Journal

Journal writing can be an outlet for feelings as well as a great way to practice writing. Griffin started journaling by telling about a time when he went to a fishing derby while we were on our trip.  He had many details from that day that he could have written about. I had him tell me about the fishing derby and together we discussed what would be good beginning, middle, and ending details. I won’t always guide him so much for his journaling, but I am trying to also keep up the structure his kindergarten teacher provided him.

When Griffin came home on the last day of kindergarten, I took a lot of pleasure in going through all of his folders of writing. It is great to see his writing on paper and to hear about his thoughts. I know writing is a priority and we need to make daily writing part of our daily routine.  These are just a few tips we have implemented in our home to boost the kids' reading development.      

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