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Play Time With Writing

 

Q. Our son is 10. He can't spell, his grammar is terrible, and he doesn't write in complete sentences. He freezes when a blank piece of paper is put in front of him. How can we help?

 

It's hard to feel confident when the pressure's on. It's better when you do what comes naturally, for kids: play.

 

Writing should be joyful and natural, and it can be, with the right kind of playful practice activities you can do at home.

 

Here are some suggestions:

 

n       Write a joke or funny note on a slip of paper. Tuck it in your child's lunchbox or backpack. Next day, the child should write back, hiding the new note for you to find. Keep it up as long as you can, and keep the notes to re-read together.

 

n       Tell "audiotales." Ask your child to talk into a tape recorder about "my perfect day" or "how to score in soccer." Whatever is familiar, fun and exciting should make the words freely flow. Then the child can listen to the tape and transfer the best parts onto paper. Result: better flow in print, too.

 

n       Match your child with a penpal. They can write letters or send email. A grandparent or adult friend of the family would be ideal so that good grammar, spelling and punctuation would be modeled. Teach your child to end each message with a question to keep the conversation going.

 

n       Kids love mysteries and finding what's hidden. Take turns hiding things in your house and yard. Your child should write three or four clues to lead to the "treasure." Clue-writing is a great way to practice writing clearly and concisely.

 

n       Teachers should be circling grammar, spelling and punctuation errors by third or fourth grade, but if they don't, you should. Your child should correct and rewrite each error, and as a reward for "catching" errors, you should go out and play some "catch" with your all-star young writer.

Homework: good at-home aids for writing instruction are available through: www.howtotutor.com

 

By Susan Darst Williams www.ShowandTellforParents.com Coaching Your Child 08 2008

 

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