Writing, writing production, and written expression - whatever the terminology, they all remain the aims of teaching English, and also some of the greatest sources of difficulties for children.
Written expression requires several skills: the gesture of writing to begin with, knowledge of the written language - a code that is only acquired through exposure to written texts - good spelling, and an understanding of syntax. On top of that, there is the difficulty of creating content and constructing the text with a beginning, middle, and end. It's no wonder that some children are reluctant to write!
To help a child with written expression, you can encourage and develop their taste for writing through varied, fun activities that stimulate their imagination. Here are some concrete ways to make writing easier and more enjoyable!
Children's books that aim to help kids enter the world of writing often use writing matrices to support various writing situations. For younger children, writing games with sentence starters like "I am afraid of..." or "If I were an animal, I would be..." can be easily improvised at home. For slightly older children, Plume offers co-writing opportunities where kids can create a story universe they love with the help and guidance of teachers.
Writing games are a great way to unlock imagination and familiarize children with necessary syntactic structures for written expression. For older children, writing games also allow for the release of creativity while applying the codes and constraints of poetry, storytelling, detective stories or drama, through a process of imitation, expansion or variation.
The key is to present accessible and rewarding activities that will motivate your children and set them up for success. Check out our previous article on 7 tips to make children want to write at school for more ideas on how to make writing fun for kids.
Sometimes, providing support is not enough to unblock writing. In fact, the prospect of having to imagine can paralyze struggling students for whom written expression is a real obstacle. To help them, some teachers advise telling a story they have already heard. This exercise allows students to become familiar with the structures of the written language, the construction of a story, and its vocabulary.
In addition to providing support, it is important to regularly practice writing and to ritualize it. Some classes adopt a "writing jogging" method by providing students with a new introductory sentence each day.
Vocabulary is a crucial component in the toolkit of a writer's apprentice. It cannot be invented but is instead acquired through various means such as transmission, exchanges, and daily activities like excursions, games, and songs. For instance, the game "Who is it?" can help children learn and practice the interrogative form and vocabulary related to describing people. Files or imagiers, which are useful for younger children, can aid in systematically acquiring vocabulary. Additionally, reading is an excellent way to develop vocabulary, as it allows one to discover written language and immerse themselves in it without even realizing it.
When a child is supported and encouraged in their efforts, they can come to see writing as a source of pleasure and creativity.