Writing Experiences for at Home Learning
For many parents what we feel confident with is correcting our children's work but that is not the same as teaching and it often turns children off to writing. Here are a few ways to continue to support writing at home that are encouraging and fun.
Create a time each day to tell stories. You can decide with your child if you want them to be true stories (The time when I was at camp and...) or made up stories (If our cat went on vacation he would probably...).
First, you can model how you tell a story. Depending on the age of your children you can keep it simple or elaborate. But the goal is fun! Great stories have:
Next, encourage your children to tell a story. Mostly listen. Try not to interrupt. Be human in your responses instead of being an editor who is looking to correct. Laugh. Smile. Nod.
Finally, mention they might want to write that story down, but don't force it. Once a story is well received and exciting enough children will eventually choose to write it down. If they don't choose to write it, you can jot it down on a list of possible stories we might tell again or write down.
Optional: Record the story so you can all go back and listen again and again. Send it to a friend or family member. Challenge them to send a story back.
Brainstorm a list of people your children want to keep in touch with (teachers, friends, grandparents, etc.). For younger children they can sketch first, and then try to label and write the letter. For older students they can pick one person to write to each day.
Don't focus too much on proper letter formats. Instead encourage them to write well. This means they:
Start with an introduction. Stories are great for this. They can tell a story of what has been going on lately. For example, my son fell in the water when we were walking on the beach. That story is already being told a lot.
Be interested in the other person. Ask them questions. Describe what you love about them. Spend time showing them why they matter and what you want to hear back from them.
Make sure it is readable but not necessarily perfectly edited. Remind the writer to reread for clarity, spelling and punctuation but not to the point they won't want to write letters anymore. The reason to use spelling and punctuation is to make sure the reader of the letter can understand it. Help children see the value in readability without dampening enthusiasm. If your first grader spells the word dinosaur as "dino sour" let it go. If they spell the word "the" wrong you may ask them to try again.
Mail the letters. Walk to the mailbox. Stay 6 feet away from others. Enjoy the fresh air.
Try Out Fanfiction
For anyone who does not know what fanfiction is, it is when a reader chooses a book or author they love and tries to write like them. This means they take characters that they read about and try to write their own versions of stories. It is super fun and encourages the reading and writing connection.
Encourage your child to pick a favorite author or book. In our house it is currently Pete the Cat.
Think of some ways to make a new version such as
rewrite a scene
write a scene from a different character's perspective
write a prequel
write a sequel
change the ending
create a spin-off where a secondary character becomes the main character
try it in a different genre (if it is a novel, try it as a picture book or short play etc)
Publish the stories on fan fiction websites or print them out to read together.
Optional: Send the story to a friend and see if they want to write one and send it back.
Here is a sample schedule for what these sorts of writing experiences might go like.