If your child struggles with writing, practicing at home will help, but you don’t want to make it seem like another school chore. The answer is to sneak writing into play and vice versa.
As Joseph Pearce says in The Magical Child, “The child can never learn to play without the parent playing with the child. Play … is a huge creative potential built within the child, which never develops unless it is stimulated by the adult model, the parent.”
Remember that your role as a home writing coach is to have fun and to honor your child’s imagination. You don’t have to be the drill sergeant in charge of spelling. In fact, research shows us that in the long run, it’s far more important to encourage the communication of ideas than to hamper a child’s style for the sake of correct spelling.
The root of the word “communication” is “to commune” – in other words, to coax the ideas in your child’s brain down through the paper and up into your brain. You can help by:
1. Saying, “Let’s play a game.” There’s no need to mention “writing game” if your child is a reluctant writer.
2. Choosing subjects your child loves, like brontosauruses or monster movies or soccer or shoes.
3. Talking through ideas, asking questions, and listening carefully to answers.
4. Making drawings, notes, and story maps together, if your child can’t remember ideas.
5. Taking dictation or having your child use a computer.
6. Praising honestly and liberally.
7. Keeping games short.
8. Posting written work on the wall or refrigerator, or sending it to family members and friends. Writing is meant to be shared.
9. Quitting if it isn’t fun for your child or for you.