How to Keep Your Kids Writing This Summer
If you are a parent of a school-aged child, then you have likely heard about the dreaded Summer Learning Loss. According to various studies, students who don’t maintain at least some learning during the summer months can lose up to 60% of what they learned during the prior school year! By allowing our children to avoid summertime learning, we are inadvertently sending them back to school in the fall at a lower academic level than they should be.
Of course, we aren’t suggesting your child spend hours each day writing essays and working through equations. At least, when it comes to one of the most beneficial ways students can exercise their brains — writing — there are a ton of strategies even the most stubborn kid might describe as “fun.” If you want to know how to keep your kids writing this summer, keep scrolling!
1. Leave Subtle Hints
Most parents know that anything you want your kids to do becomes the last thing they want to do. So instead of forcing your child to sit at the kitchen table with a writing prompt, leave subtle hints around the house. What do we mean?
Place a notepad and a pencil near their play kitchen, and watch as they take orders and create menus. A small box or tote of things like notepads and pens might encourage some spontaneous creativity, while a book or two in the bathroom or on their nightstand is sure to encourage reading.
2. Write for Absolutely Every Reason Possible
Instead of buying birthday or thank you cards this summer, have your children create their own, complete with a heartfelt note inside. A letter written to a friend or former teacher is bound to brighten someone’s day, and is the perfect excuse to practice writing, grammar, and letter format. Going on vacation? Allow your child to write down the plans for each day ahead of time.
Depending on your child’s age, these activities could include writing a rough draft and editing their work. But even writing a simple list or paragraph provides kids with valuable practice.
3. Set Up a Pen Pal System
A great way to encourage older children to write is to set up a pen pal system. Friends from school, cousins, or grandparents make excellent pen pals. Writing weekly or bi-weekly letters can provide ample opportunity to practice summarizing events, sentence structure, and proper letter format.
4. Keep a Summer Journal
Not only does keeping a summer journal provide an excellent way to practice writing, it also challenges kids to reflect. At the start of summer, allow your child to choose a journal and pen or pencil of their choice. Then carve out some time each afternoon, or at least a couple times each week, for journaling. Journaling doesn’t need to be complicated. If recounting an entire day is too much of a challenge, ask your child to write three sentences about something they learned, their favorite activity, and what they hope to accomplish tomorrow.
5. Write Outside
There’s something inherently inspiring about the outdoors. One way to encourage your kids to write this summer is simply to head outside! Set up an inviting writing spot in your backyard or at a local park, complete with a blanket to sit on, some snacks, and some writing materials. Ask your child to create a story or poem about something they see or hear.
If your child could use some practice with spelling or penmanship, grab a stick and practice writing in the mud, dirt, or sand.
6. Make Writing Part of the Daily Routine
For some families, it works well to set aside 10-15 minutes each day to focus on learning. But sitting down at the table to write doesn’t have to feel boring or like a chore. Use fun prompts to encourage creativity. “Fun prompts” can be just about anything you think of — from writing a song about bugs to the tune of Twinkle, Twinkle to describing a day from the perspective of a hamster on a wheel. Be creative!
7. Write a Persuasive Letter
Is there something your child has been asking to do, buy, or eat? Who are we kidding — there probably isn’t even just one thing! If there is something on their wishlist that may be a realistic request, ask them to write a letter convincing you to allow it to happen. Depending on your child’s age and/or writing ability, you can even request a minimum number of sentences or paragraphs.
8. Scrapbook Your Family’s Summer Adventures
Allow your child to document a family vacation or their summer adventures. Purchase an inexpensive scrapbook album, or create your own with construction paper, a hole-punch, and binder rings. Let your child choose some photos to print and glue into their new scrapbook. Of course, a scrapbook isn’t complete without a few memories. Your child can complete their book by writing some sentences or paragraphs to describe each photo and their favorite memories.
9. Make Lists
Writing practice doesn’t have to be formal, and it doesn’t have to result in anything as long as a story or even a poem. Simply creating lists can be hugely beneficial, as it allows practice for spelling and penmanship, but also challenges kids to come up with additional words and ideas. Next time you prepare for a grocery trip, allow your child to write the list. They can also list their chores for the day or week, or come up with a list of activity ideas. For the ultimate list-making activity, pull out a game of Scattergories or Scattergories, Jr.
10. Encourage Reading!
One thing all great writers have in common is that they love to read. Encourage your child to read by allowing them to choose a book that suits their interests and reading ability. Chances are they’ll be inspired enough to pick up a pencil themselves.