When it comes to assessing what skills will be in demand in the future, many people might point to coding, engineering, or marketing. An often overlooked skill is communication and specifically, writing—without which the former gets lost in translation.
Now more than ever, writing is a skill that penetrates almost every line of work and facet of life. The ability to gather complex or abundant ideas and present them in a way that others can understand and digest often means the difference between success and failure.
Additionally, with so much communication coming at everyone, one must also impress, entertain, or impact the reader in some way so as to maintain his or her attention.
We’re not exactly born with these skills, and schools tend to only scratch the surface when it comes to writing.
You’d be doing your children a huge service if you would take the time to help them develop their writing skills.
Here are eight easy ways to teach your kids to write.
Reading can give one an appreciation for different writing styles and the power of the written word. Read aloud with your kids, even after you think they’re too old for it.
Encourage your kids to read independently by surrounding them with a plethora of books. Model the behavior by taking time out to read for yourself.
2. Make Time
You’re busy. I’m busy. They’re busy. The only way your kids are going to get around to writing is if you schedule it.
Intentionally set aside time for writing. Make projects fun by centering them on things you know they love. Later on, if they get the writing bug, they’ll simply make time for it on their own.
3. Let Them Dictate
Well before they can form their ABCs on paper, your kids can write. Have them dictate to you their own story or letter to a relative.
Write down exactly what they say, mistakes and all, and allow their imagination to run wild. They’ll revel in seeing their ideas come to life and experiencing the fruits of writing.
4. Put Pencil to Paper
Author Judy Blume once said, “Whatever it is that happens between the brain and the pencil in my hand, that’s really important to my process.”
“But it’s 2015, and all these writing apps …,” you say.
Many successful writers throughout history have pointed to the benefits of writing with a pen or pencil as opposed to (not that long ago) a typewriter or today’s technology.
A study last year in the journal Psychological Science showed that college students who took notes on a laptop were less successful taking a subsequent comprehension test than those who took notes with a pen and paper.
Emphasize clear handwriting. Encourage free-form mind mapping and doodling. Relish the freedom that comes along with these simple tools. Show your kids that a pencil and paper may just be the killer app.
5. Establish a Pen Pal
Writing with a specific audience in mind is a key concept to master. Have your kid’s pen notes to friends and family and send them via snail mail.
The letter they write to their 97-year-old great grandma will likely include different content than the letter they write to their best friend. They’ll probably even get a letter back and enjoy the fruits of an old-fashioned pen pal relationship.
6. Dabble in Different Writing Styles
Hedge fund manager and billionaire Paul Tudor Jones recently discussed the importance of newspaper writing in business with Bloomberg. “You learn how to write in a hierarchical way,” he told the news outlet.
“Time is money. When you’ve got hundreds of decisions to make every week—dozens every day—being able to see, think, and understand what the issue is in the first couple of paragraphs is actually paramount to being efficient at what you do,” he said.
Of course, there are numerous genres of writing that your kids can experiment with and benefit from learning. In school, they’ll likely focus on essay writing more than anything else.
If they seem interested in poetry, study that for a while. Perhaps they have a penchant for greeting-card messages. They should be free to create those. Maybe they love to write comedy bits. Amazing. Do not limit them, and do not underestimate what they can do.
7. Click ‘Publish’
Set up a little website for your children to share their ideas with the world. Perhaps they’d like to focus on their favorite topic or simply maintain a blog.
Obviously, online privacy and safety should be taken into consideration, but allowing your children to reach others with their ideas and potentially receive feedback will encourage them to continue and grow.
8. Check Out Online Resources
You may be thinking, “I’m not a writer. How can I possibly teach my kids to write?”
Luckily, there seems to be hardly any limit to the online resources available when it comes to teaching writing. Below are a few to get you started. Based on your children’s ages, you’ll either want to utilize these sorts of resources as teacher’s tools or point your children directly to them.
As a parent, if you provide your children with time, a conducive environment, lots of encouragement, and some resources, they’ll have all they need to develop their writing skills. At the very least, they’ll have skills that will be useful for their entire lives. At most, well, how big can they dream?