Writing is the most complex activity that most students will encounter during their years in school. If you stop to think about it, writing requires students to bring to bear a wide variety of different skills, all at the same time. Here are just some of the skills required:
- Fine and gross motor skills for handwriting
- Understanding parts of speech
- Working memory
- Making an argument
- Providing support
- Persuasive skills
- Grammar skills
- Research skills
- Reading comprehension
And the list goes on and on. In fact, learning to read and write go hand in hand, and students develop both sets of skills incrementally as they progress through school.
Children should be given a lot of "slack" by their parents as they develop their writing skills in the early years. This means that students should be encouraged to put their thoughts down on paper in a "stream of consciousness" style initially. When children are young, especially in kindergarten and grades one and two, we want to foster their sense of creativity and not stifle it by making writing so daunting and rule-bound that they get frustrated and lose interest in writing. Remember that the writing process is complex and will take years to develop. We don't want to derail the train before it gets out of the station!
As children get older and have become comfortable with putting their thoughts down on paper we can begin the process of teaching them to "fix" their writing and improve upon what they have begun. At this point we can slowly blend in the editing and revising skills listed above.
All Kinds of Minds, an excellent education-related website, has a wonderful blog post with suggestions for helping children learn the process of revising their writing. It's definitely worth a read.
And don't forget to give your child an opportunity to do some writing this summer. After all, reading and writing skills can get awfully rusty over summer vacation if kids don't use them once in a while.
Here are a couple of website which list some great ideas for fun summer writing activities:
Enjoy the rest of the summer. School will be back in session before you know it!