Teaching Kids to Write

Teaching kids to write follows closely on the heels of teaching them to read. Although most of this website is about children’s literature and how to get kids reading, the process of writing is closely linked to reading. Teach a child to write and chances are he or she will start wanting to read more often.

My son is a great example of this. As a writer, and a homeschooling mom, I should be a natural at teaching my son how to write. Right? Not quite. As most people will tell you, teaching a skill is not necessarily the same as being able to do it yourself. That is something I’ve discovered this school year with my son.

Organization is the Key

The secret of teaching kids to write is showing them how to organize their thoughts – similar to creating an outline when writing a term paper in high school or college. Do a Google search, and you’ll find an abundant supply of sites that advertise graphic organizers and strategies that offer writing help for kids.

Writing ideas down on paper is surprisingly easy when you use a graphic organizer. The basic steps involved with the one my son’s charter school uses are listed below. (The examples are being used with my son’s permission, of course.)

    1. Decide on a topic for your essay. This becomes the title. (Example: “The Person I Admire”)
    2. Write a topic sentence or phrase, identifying the essay’s theme. (Example: “Everyone has someone they admire. I admire William.”)
    3. Write a “main idea” sentence that supports the topic sentence. (Example: “He is playful.”)
    4. Add three more sentences, to create a paragraph. These are called “detail sentences.” Each of these should provide a detail about the first sentence in the paragraph. (Example: “We like to play games. We like to play Legos. We like to wrestle.”)
    5. Add two more paragraphs, using the same method described in step 4, each with a different main idea. (The two other “main ideas” in my son’s essay were “He is very skillful.” and “He is very kind.”)
    6. The last sentence in the essay is called the “gift,” and refers back to the topic sentence. (My son’s example: “Who do you admire?”)

Allowing your child to type his or her essays on a computer can help too. My son loves practicing his new typing skills while completing his weekly writing assignments. By the way, he enjoys reading more now too!

Resources for Teaching Writing

When searching for ideas on teaching kids to write, where do you go? The Internet? A teachers’ supply store? Barnes & Noble?

I recently discovered an excellent place – a website that not only provides software and written materials, but also articles full of practical ideas and insights into why readers don’t always become writers. The website is www.excellenceinwriting.com (Institute for Excellence in Writing).

Andrew Pudewa, director of the institute, speaks at conferences throughout North America. One workshop he teaches (and the one I attended) is called “Reaching the Reluctant Writer.” The method he taught in that workshop impressed me so much that I decided to “spread the word” about this to other moms who may be trying to help their children learn the skill of writing.

Two of Pudewa’s articles are especially helpful:

Writing Projects for Kids

Looking for ideas on creative writing for kids? You can find a ton of ideas for teaching kids to write on the Internet. Be sure to bookmark this site too, as I’ll be adding new resources and helpful tips periodically. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Ask your child to write down their favorite type of food, and WHY they like it. Ask them to describe it with as much detail as possible.
  • Write down some random words on scraps of paper, turn them face down on the table, and have your child pick out three or four. Tell them to write a sentence using all of the words. (This can be expanded into a story if you use more words.)
  • Have your child re-write the ending of a traditional fairy tale. Encourage them to use their imagination!

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