According to the National Summer Learning Association, children tend to slip academically during the summer months. In fact, some studies have shown that students may lose between two and three months’ worth of learning in reading, and similar losses can occur in mathematical computation skills as well. Infographic on the Ideas to Keep Your Child’s Writing Skills Sharp |
To help your child stay sharp this summer, include some academic activities in your daily routine. However, this doesn’t have to be a dreaded chore for either of you. With a little bit of creativity, these pursuits can be a fun way to keep your son or daughter busy while learning at the same time. Then, when September rolls around, your child will be more than prepared for the academic challenges of a new school year.
This week, we will explore 5 easy ways to keep your child’s writing skills sharp during the dog days of summer:
Letter-writing / Postcards This is a terrific way to get your child writing without making the task too daunting. If you have out-of-town relatives, or if your child is at camp, encourage him or her to write to family and friends on a weekly basis. If you take a day trip or vacation, buy some postcards and have your child write a quick paragraph to grandparents, cousins, etc. Your child will not only keep in touch with loved ones but also continue to practice the art of composing thoughts and getting them down on paper for others to read.
Storytelling It’s possible to build writing skills without pen and paper! All great stories – written and oral – have a beginning, middle and end. To become more adept at including these elements in a story, ask your child to share funny, interesting, and/or surprising incidents with you and other family members. Be sure to give your child time to think, and allow him or her to speak without interruption. However, if your young story-teller gets tongue-tied, provide gentle prompts, such as: “How did it all begin?…What happened next?…What happened in the end?…Why was this so memorable?…How did this make you feel?” etc.
Journals Buy a journal or diary for your child to chronicle the Summer writing activities. Knowing that others won’t be reading the journal can be motivating for a reluctant writer, and your child may find the journal a special place to write down thoughts and feelings. Remember, the more often a person writes, the more natural the writing process becomes: the journal/diary is yet another vehicle that will promote this writing practice.
Creative writing Let your child’s imagination soar! For some children, just the suggestion of writing (or typing) a creative story is enough to get them running for paper or a keyboard. For others, though, you may need to be a bit more structured with this activity. First, let your child choose the topic and storyline. Depending upon previous writing experiences at school, free choice may be a welcome change from assigned writing projects. If, however, your child thrives on prompts or lacks the confidence to come up with a topic, there are a few story starters below (see box) to get you started.
For younger children, it may help to write or type as the child dictates. In fact, for the tech-savvy, there are voice recognition programs that will automatically translate the speaker’s voice into text on the screen. Dragon Dictation is a free app for your smartphone that allows you to dictate your ideas and then send them as an email. If your child is a storyteller (but balks at the idea of writing and typing), this may be a viable option.
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