“Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.”
— Louis L’Amour
WRITING AS A PROCESS
The first thing I establish with my students is that what they are writing is NOT the finished product. Therefore, they do not need to worry about their spelling, punctuation, or perfect handwriting. The important thing is to get the ideas down on the paper before they "float away." Then we can go back and revise to improve the details of the story. When the story is just as the author wants it (and I can see it is the best they can do with my suggestions), the FINAL step is to correct spelling, punctuation, and neatness. If you are not familiar, these are the steps of the Writing Process (they do vary slightly from teacher to teacher, but this is a general idea):
LEARNING STORY ELEMENTS
An example of something I might teach to a K-3 student is STORY ELEMENTS. These are the basic parts of the story: characters, setting, plot, beginning, middle, end, etc. We will go over them with a familiar story - probably a fairy tale since they tend to follow the typical structure. Then one or two elements will be introduced more in-depth to the child at each lesson. Then the element(s) taught will be used in a short activity and finally added to the child's story (this will vary between Kindergarten and third grade, and of course vary with the individual child as well). In many cases, they already have the element, it is just a matter of refining it or adding more detail, now that they understand more about its function.
MORE THAN STORIES
For the upper grades, or whenever the child is ready, it is time to extend expository writing. I like to start in 2nd or 3rd grade with a simple how-to or an opinion piece. If a student comes to me older, without experience, we can begin with those shorter assignments to help them feel comfortable and ease them into essay-writing.
Once they can write a short message, they just need to add detail to expand the idea to a 5-paragraph essay. How-to writing can start by listing simple steps for making something. Sometimes we use something they know how to cook or make, like a sandwich.
When we begin more comprehensive reports, I still use the 5-step writing process. But I also provide guidance for each genre of writing so students understand the differences.
I always check in with the parent(s) after each project and we decide on the next one together. I usually have something in mind, but if you want your child to work on a history or science essay, for example, I am happy to do whatever is needed.
Rainbow cartoon vector created by brgfx - www.freepik.com