Your kids are at home for a stretch of time — whether this is for the summer months, spring break, or when the schools are closed.
You’ll want to keep the momentum going for kids at home.
The first thing you’ll want to do is help your child/student(s) find an area where they can (and will) write.
Some things to consider when designating a writing area:
Where can they work quietly and without interruption?
Where is there enough space to set up some materials to help them with writing?
Once you choose the space, have them set up some materials to help them be independent.
- Paper for kids in K-2, and writer’s notebooks for kids grades 3-8.
- Extra pens – we encourage pens for writing as they help kids to write more and also allow us to see all the smart thinking and work they’re doing as writers. Our favorite pens at Literacy Partners are Papermate flair pens. If you feel like treating your child, order some! It will make writing feel even more special.
- A stapler – to create multiple page books.
- Scissors – so they can cut their paper apart to add in flaps with additional information — they’d do this when revising. Often, they may want to add to the beginning or middle of the writing piece, and this would allow them to.
- Tape dispenser – to tape the flaps on wherever they want to add more.
This is a picture from a school writing center with all of these tools.
Remember that any writing is great!
Keep in mind that the goal of writing workshop, is to build strong, independent, confident, and joyful writers. If they’re excited to write comic books, spooky stories, fantasy, recipe books, whatever — encourage them to go for it! When kids are at home it is an excellent opportunity to give them more freedom.
So often in school, we have them working on a unit of study, which means they’re only writing in one genre. Maybe they’re not crazy about that genre and they’ve always wished they could create their writing pieces in a different genre (that isn’t in your writing calendar for the year). Now’s the time for them to do it. What you’ll likely find is that when kids do independent writing projects, they’ll write more. Will it be the most amazing writing you’ve ever seen? Maybe not — but that isn’t the point. They’re all at home, so if we can get them excited about writing again, let’s do it!
Now that you have kids doing all different kinds of writing, you’ll find that it’s a little more challenging to know what to teach. Remind them to use the strategies they’ve learned all year long.
At this point, it’s helpful to do lessons that support the stages of the writing process (both for younger grades and older grades).
- Generating ideas
Also, now’s a great time to teach kids to find their own mentor text. What text do they have at home or can they find online that’s in the genre they’re writing? This will help them know what the structure of the piece should look like and how to craft that writing piece.
A word of caution for parents (or for teachers to relay to parents): Compliment all writing. Now’s the time to cheer them on and encourage them rather than criticize or make corrections. After all, they don’t have to be writing at all and they’re doing it.
With regards to spelling, remember to encourage parents and kids to use invented spelling. We don’t want to correct their spelling as this will get in the way of their flow and will hinder them. We want them to take risks and be brave spellers. The most important thing is that they did the best they can, listened carefully to the sounds in the word, wrote them down, and now they can read it. If you can’t read it but they can, that’s okay!
Finally, have kids think about an audience for this writing piece. Professional authors think about who might enjoy their writing. Is it a story about an experience with grandma? Then mail it to her or read it to her over the phone or FaceTime. Is it a how-to book on washing your hands? Could you read it to your baby niece? Is it a comic book that your best friend would love? Share it with them!