6 skills kids need for written expression

Kids Basic Writing Skills

6 skills kids need for written expression

One of the most basic skills for writing is reading comprehension — the ability to read and understand text. To write, kids first need to be able to sound out unfamiliar words (decoding) and instantly recognize many other words. Then they need to understand the meaning of strings of words, in sentences and in paragraphs.

Without these skills, it’s difficult for kids to even start writing. They will likely struggle with spelling and with creating text that’s meaningful. And they’ll have trouble revising and editing their work. Those tasks require re-reading closely to catch and fix mistakes or weak spots.

What can help: Technology can help kids who have reading challenges. For instance, if they struggle with decoding sounding out words, text-to-speech can read aloud the words they’ve written. Some text-to-speech tools read aloud words as they type them, which can be really helpful when editing.

Genre and content knowledge

Genre knowledge means knowing how to use different types of writing. If the assignment is to write a story, kids need to know what goes into the genre of narrative writing. It has to include setting (who, where, when) and plot (what and why).

Another example of a genre is the persuasive essay. To write one, kids need to use a position statement, reasons, facts to support reasons, and a conclusion that summarizes the main reasons.

Content knowledge means knowing something about the subject you’re writing about. If asked to write a letter to a politician about pollution, kids need to understand what pollution is. They’ll also need to know how it affects people, animals, and the environment. And they may need to know what causes pollution.

What can help: Many kids pick up knowledge about genre just by being exposed to it in school through reading. Others may need more explicit instruction. For example, they may need to be taught about the difference between biography and memoir, or fiction versus nonfiction.

To do that, find good examples of each genre. Then compare and contrast them with weak examples or examples not in that genre. You can also come up with a list of common elements that all the good examples share.

Many kids have holes in their general knowledge about the world. That can hurt their writing. You can help kids build background knowledge through reading, field trips, and family outings. Talk about what kids are learning before, during, and after the outing. Just meeting new people and trying new things improves background knowledge, too.

Five Basic Writing Skills Students Should Learn Early On

This should come as no surprise—written language is very different than spoken language and has its own unique rules. Furthermore, the English language is notorious for its challenging quirks and many inconsistencies. However, proper spelling and punctuation are the foundation for all effective written communication and it’s imperative for kids to learn them (even in the age of spellcheck and autocorrect!).

Before kids can write, they need to be able to read—which is why good reading comprehension is such an important skill to have. Reading comprehension entails many things, but at its root, it is the ability to read a piece of writing and effectively glean its meaning.

Once kids have begun to grasp the concept of reading at a base level, they should also begin learning how to think critically about the work and infer meaning from what is or isn’t said as a part of good reading comprehension.

This skill is aided substantially through reading practice, but it’s especially important to focus on it deliberately because it is an area of writing many children struggle with. As kids learn to write, they often have a tough time with things like proper tense, placing modifiers and verbs in the correct places, or writing incomplete and run-on sentences.

In order to help develop this skill, be sure to teach your students about the various parts of speech and the role that different types of sentences (declarative, descriptive, inquisitive, etc.) play in writing.

Once students have a firmer grasp on composing clear sentences and paragraphs, they can begin learning about different types and genres of writing. To communicate effectively, students should be able to write in different styles and tailor their messages to an appropriate audience.

For example, if a student is writing a short story, the work should include aspects like a setting, plot, dialogue, character descriptions, and a resolution or ending. A research essay should include a thesis statement, facts, supporting arguments, and citations—while a persuasive essay should also include appeals to logic or emotion that would be out of place in a more academic piece of writing.

Experienced writers will tell you that above all else, writing is rewriting—which means that the first draft of anything is very rarely what should make it out into the world. Truly quality writing is born in the revision process, and thus, the ability to edit and rewrite is perhaps the most important basic writing skill of all that kids should learn.

The need to edit and rewrite a piece of writing might sound like extra work to kids, but it can actually make the overall process of writing much easier. Knowing that you will go back later to edit a piece can be freeing, as it removes a lot of the pressure to make it perfect from the beginning.

Instead, kids can simply begin pouring their ideas out on the page and see where their pens take them—and then they can go back, step-by-step, to make corrections and improvements to further develop their writing.

Some Basic Writing Skills Benefits

At a young age, kids learn easily through various tools and developmental teachings. Using imaginative reasoning, rather than sitting them down in front of the chalkboard is a superior teaching method.

For example, using flashcards with pictures, fun books, and videos, as well as different color pens and pencils to teach children about grammar rules or sentence structures, are all great options to use with young kids. Due to their shorter attention span, the basic writing skills that are taught must be easy to grasp and understand.

Creative writing should also be a part of the education kids receive relative to basic writing skills. Imagination and creativity are not only going to help them develop their writing, but they will also help kids engage more in learning this valuable life skill. Having children create characters, scenes, plots, or an imaginative storyline as part of their learning experiences will help them to engage more deeply in the process of learning to write.

Proper writing structure, sentence formation, punctuation, paragraph breaks, sentence breaks, and other basic writing skills must be taught to children. To do so, the use of games is a great tool for teachers or parents to use. Fun is a great way to teach kids the most basic writing rules that are required as they develop their writing mastery.

No matter how you choose to teach kids to write, it is best if you start as early as possible. The sooner the better if you ask us! Additionally, when you start with fun, basic, and imaginative learning tools kids are going to be more inclined to engage in learning basic writing skills.

Whether it is at home or at school, using fun teaching methods to get the most basic writing skills down is the best way to start when you are teaching basic writing skills to kids.

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