How Children can Build Confidence in Writing
By Carean Oh and Serena Ng, Writers Studio School of English
Many students we have taught always procrastinate when it comes to writing. Some of them would sigh and say that they have run out of ideas, asking for instant inspiration.They dread even thinking about it! After listening to their woes, we will slowly coax them to weave up a plot draft and when their faucets are turned on, they will see that it is not hard to write. All you have to do is to get started.
Why is it so important to remove the fear of writing and get children to write independently? Writing helps a child to communicate better with others around them – yes, it is true! There is a correlation between writing and speaking. When we write well, we would already have comprehended the fundamental sentence structures necessary to be understood by others.
By writing well, children are able to learn spelling in a quicker manner. In Singapore, students are encouraged to write from a young age. Teachers make students use “I can” or “I am” sentences when they are in kindergarten. Young children are taught how to sort out jumbled up sentences. Besides this, they also learn to form story plots by referring to pictorial aids. Writing is needed for higher education. But, it takes years of training for a child to gain extensive knowledge required for writing good and purposeful content. Much practice is needed until language mastery takes over – the end result is a more resilient writer, someone who writes with purpose, confidence and finesse.
Here are 5 ways to motivate your child to write more confidently and independently from a younger age.
1. Create a Book of Accomplishments
Get your child to write down the things he or she can achieve. This includes various milestones like riding a bike, preparing a sandwich and skiing. In addition, get them to draw out the activity they achieved for the day. Alternatively, you can print out a picture and they learn how to caption their experience. By the fifth activity, encourage them to write a short paragraph of 2 to 3 sentences. For example, “Today, I learned how to cycle. I am very happy. It was wonderful!” These short writing can go a long way as they ease up into primary school.
2. Make a Travel Scrapbook
With borders opening up, more people are travelling overseas. Create a travel log so that your child can jot down the activities they enjoyed during the trip. You can also encourage them to write a diary. To make the scrapbook more attractive, have pictures taken from the trip pasted on alternate pages to make it more lively. We enjoy asking our students to paste small collectibles such as a leaf, part of a brochure or a polaroid image taken during their trips. Encourage them to include a short description of the activity and share how they felt during the trip.
3. Create a Cookbook
This is something really fun to do together with your child! For a start, children can come up with the steps for cooking their favourite dish or baking their favourite dessert. Not only does this interest them, it can also serve as a good bonding experience for the family. Children will pick up instructional words and think hard about the right verbs to use, just to ensure they create a usable, accurate recipe that their friends can use (Or it will be a disaster!) If your child is up for an adventure, get them to create their own dish and write that down. For all you know, your child may want to cook for you more, lessening your “mummy or daddy duties”!
4, Try Poem or Song Writing
If methodological writing styles don’t work, try another form of writing: Poems.
Children can learn to put rhyming words together. At the same time, you can also introduce new vocabulary when brainstorming for words together. Being present with your child during the learning process is important. As kids, we both loved singing. One way to express our creativity was writing short songs about our feelings, our experiences and anything that we like. Teacher Carean has just written a song about her tiny French poodle. Get them to perform in front of an audience to build confidence (a valuable trait especially when giving presentations).
5. Gratitude jar
Take an empty jar and get your child to write 3 to 5 things they are grateful for during the week. This teaches them to show appreciation for the little things in life while learning new words or spelling whenever they document their note of thankfulness. Including everyone in the family means you have to do it too! For instance, “I am grateful for having a comfortable home” or “Thank you for teaching me how to be kind.” Once every month, pour out the jar and review the notes together – embrace the moment of gratitude and appreciation, promoting kindness!
These 5 five ideas are just some activities you can do with your child. Most importantly, encourage your child with kindness and appreciation. By setting a good example and making activities engaging and fun, writing independently will definitely be seen as less of a chore by the reluctant child. The possibilities are endless!
Teacher Carean has also shared an article on 4 benefits of helping your child to write well which you might be interested in.