Writing is one of the most important skills for your child’s education.  The process begins before kindergarten and continues through life. Unfortunately, Vietnamese classroom settings often don’t provide enough practice time to really hone those writing skills, especially when it comes to writing in English.  Teachers may provide good lessons and instruction, but there’s still a lot of slack for parents to pick up.

Understanding why and how to teach children effective writing is an essential skill every parent should have.  At Everest, we use the 6 + 1 Trait Writing Model.  The traits are not new.  They provide a language for describing the qualities that most readers and writers think are important in good writing.  This article will help parents understand the 6+1 Traits of Writing and how to assist your young writers at home in the writing process.

A quick review on the 6+1 Traits of Writing

The Six Traits of Writing are rooted in more than 50 years of research.  This research reveals that all “good” writing has six key ingredients, including ideas, organization, voice, word choice, sentence fluency, and conventions.

Besides, the +1, the additional writing trait refer to the presentation of the writing itself.  In handwritten pieces, this is where penmanship comes in. In digital products, it includes the use of typography, color, graphics, images, proportions, margins, white space, etc.  The trait of presentation deals with overall visual appeal and look of the product. Presentation does not weigh equally to the Six Traits. The Six Traits identify the ingredients that impact the quality of the message.  However, presentation doesn’t have the same impact on the message. That’s why it’s called 6 + 1, not 7 Traits of Writing.

These key components provide teachers and students a common understanding for how to compose, revise, and assess all types of writing.  They are inherent in well-written essays, reports, blogs, poems, videos, and other genres. But they are also evident within the products of our youngest writers, such as pictures, labels, lists, etc.

This shared vocabulary allows teachers and students to communicate about the strengths and weaknesses in writing.  The Six Traits take the mystery out of what a “good” one looks and sounds like. It’s important to recognize the Six Traits are not a program. They are simply six words, six characteristics, six ingredients inherent in strong writing.

“Trait-based writing provides a common vocabulary for talking about writing” – Ruth Culham

>> Learn each of the writing traits in details here: https://blog.e2.com.vn/use-this-system-to-become-a-great-writer/

Maybe you’ve wondered whether this model really works, but the experience of thousands of teachers in schools across the U.S., and ourselves at Everest Education who are using this model for writing instruction shows that when students understand what good writing looks like and sounds like, their own writing improves dramatically.  Through the Six Trait writing, your child will be able to:

  • Acquire a real sense of what makes some writing so good
  • Write better first drafts
  • Revise with confidence and power so the second draft is more than just a “neatened up” rehash of draft #1.
  • Read with new insight and understanding
  • Understand exactly what teachers are looking for in writing.

Things you can do to help your young writer

Although the “writing” done in kindergarten doesn’t look like the writing done in later years, there are still plenty of ideas, organization, voice, word choice, sentence fluency, and convention skills to teach to kinders via pictorial writing, list writing, and early sentence writing. 

It takes time to develop these strong writing skills, and it can be a tough task to accomplish.  Thankfully, there are many things that parents can do at home to help improve children’s writing skills.  From fun activities to daily reading and writing sessions, we suggest some simple tips on how to improve kids’ writing skills will help your child build her skills in no time.

#1. Encourage reading
Do you like to read to your child?  Regular reading is a stepping stone to better writing and helps kids’ strengthen their writing skills.  The reading-writing connection is powerful. It helps expand children’s vocabulary and show them different ways of using words.  This also makes it easier for them to use these words in their own writing.

“Powerful writers and powerful speakers have two wells they can draw on for that power; one is the well of rhythm; the other is the well of vocabulary.  But vocabulary and a sense of rhythm are almost impossible to “teach” in the narrow sense of the word. So how are children expected to develop a sense of rhythm or a wide vocabulary?  By being read to, alive, a lot!”, a writer-teacher Mem Fox reminds us in her book Radical reflections

With younger children, make sure you’re reading together every day and encouraging their love of reading as they grow.  Introduce children to different genres (types of literature), authors, writing styles. Choose books with wonderful language, vocabulary, stories, and information… There is also much evidence to show that reading aloud positively impacts vocabulary growth and comprehension.  If your child read a million words a year, she will likely gain the meaning of one thousand new words from context.

>> Parents can refer to our old blog post to learn how to choose a just right book for your child’s reading level: https://blog.e2.com.vn/selecting-books-for-your-child-how-to-find-a-book-that-is-just-right-for-her-reading-level/

Another tip is choosing books that you love and enjoy.  That way, your love of reading will shine through. Your voice will be expressive and full of life.  Your child will learn to listen for voice and even more important, will learn that reading is a joyful thing to do.  Other times, let your child be the reader who will read aloud to you. Reading aloud builds comprehension skills, a sense of what a sentence is, fluency, punctuation skills, sense of voice, and much more. 

#2. Create a writing corner.  Set aside a little corner in your house that is completely devoted to writing.  Having an area dedicated solely to writing will help free your child from distractions so she can focus on practicing writing skills.  Equip that corner with kid-friendly writing and drawing implements: notebooks, construction and composition paper, fluorescent pens, pencils and erasers, markers, crayons, stickers, and word puzzle books.  Put up a bulletin board to display word lists, quotes from writers, inspiring illustrations or photos, and, of course, examples of the young author’s work.

#3. Encourage your child to keep a diary or journal.  A daily journal can be a terrific way for a young writer to expand her vocabulary, develop a unique writing style, and learn how to express complicated thoughts in words.  This builds essential skills and gives children an important outlet for sharing their thoughts and feelings. Encourage your child to write about things that happen at home and school, about people she likes or dislikes and why, and about things she wants to remember and do.  If she agrees to share the journal with you, read the entries and discuss them together.

#4. Play creative writing games.  Incorporate writing activity into imaginative play.  Figure out a writing activity that fits into your child’s interests and enthusiasms to spark her creative writing talents.  For example, you might ask your child to create a “mashup” story that includes her favorite characters from a completely different world.  Sometimes children might not be able to come up with completely unique characters, settings, and plots. In order to get them to practice writing creatively, consider having your child write a new version of an old classic, such as a fairy tale. “What would you change about the story to make it your own?”, you might ask.  If your child is shy or uncomfortable coming up with their own creative writing ideas, propose a game where the two of you can write a story together. Try to keep the story silly and light-hearted in order to keep your child interested and engaged.

#5. Helping Your Child Find Things to Write About.  Writing truly is thinking.  And a good writer is a good observer.  This means you can support your child’s writing skills not only through actual reading/writing activities, but also by helping her become a great observer.  Ask your child questions about the world around you in order to spark their curiosity and creativity. Having interesting, thoughtful conversations in the home will help your child develop the curiosity and vocabulary necessary to becoming a creative writer.  

For example, when you take a hike or field trip, tour the art museum, take in the zoo or stroll along the beach, talk about what you see. Point out animals while you’re walking and ask your child to think about what the lives of these animals are like, ask her to come up with a new name for their favorite park, or what her favorite building is and why she likes it so much.

6. Provide fun opportunities for revision. One of the most important skills your child will learn is how to revise first drafts into final drafts.  Hence, whenever your child finishes a writing, encourage her to make changes to her story and to work hard at improving it.  For example, you can ask her to use sticky notes to build off of the first draft of a story in order to add more details, clarify her language, and vary her sentence structures.  Put the six traits to work by assessing together. It’s fun because you get to be the critics! You don’t have to assess every trait. It doesn’t have to be your child’s own writing either.  You can pick a paragraph from a chapter book, picture book, newspaper article, magazine article or any piece of writing. Look at the paragraph and discuss about word choice, sentence fluency and ideas. Notice the conventions in any published document.  Did the writer or editor overlook any errors? How did they do on capitalizing and paragraphing? Why did they make some short or long paragraphs? Did they use lots of exclamation points or none at all? Do you agree with their decisions on conventions? Would you have done things differently?

Conclusion

Writing is an important practical life skill.  While developing great writing skills requires lots of time and patience, you can help your child with these simple writing exercises for kids.  Parent involvement can make a big difference. As you read and write more with your child, you will be building an important foundation, and taking steps that will help your child to become a better writer as she gets older, and make writing an easier and more enjoyable process for her.

Last but not least, if your child needs extra help improving her writing skills, we can help. Our English Language Art program helps develop writing and comprehension skills for young learners, from word recognition to creative writing. Learn more about our ELA classes at: https://e2.com.vn/programs/english-language-arts/


Reference:
https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED409588.pdf
https://www.smekenseducation.com/6-Traits-of-Writing.html
https://www.wikihow.com/Improve-Your-Child%27s-Creative-Writing-Skills

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