I wasn’t a math major, but I know enough to tell you that in the majority of households, that equation DOESN’T hold true.
It’s hard enough to get them to sit down and write during the school year… How in the world is this going to happen over the summer?
But think about reading for a second. If you’ve ever seen your kid pick up a book on their own outside of school, you know that reading can be associated with fun – sometimes enough so to win out over friends, TV, and video games.
And the same can be true for writing… if we approach it in the right way.
Well it turns out summer is the perfect time of year to do that. The stakes are low. There are no due dates or grades to assign.
And you can just focus on discovering writing activities that can help build the habit of writing, without seeming like a burden… and maybe even turning into something FUN (whether they’ll admit it to you or not).
So we put together a list of fun things you can try (with a few practical ones thrown in for rising Juniors and Seniors), that might just get your child to put pencil to paper this summer. Check out the 12 writing activities ideas below:
For younger elementary-schoolers, have them practice writing their names and letters. Find templates online of the alphabet, print them out, and write over them with crayons or markers. Grab a bucket of chalk and write fun words and numbers on your driveway or sidewalk—there’s minimal mess and easy clean-up whenever it rains.
If you’re going to the beach this summer, get your kids to write in the sand! They can spell their name, their favorite pet, or a simple sentence. They’ll be having too much fun to even realize they’re practicing.
With older elementary-schoolers, writing over the summer may seem like an exasperating task. They just spent nine months practicing their writing during school; the last thing they want to do is practice over the summer!
Try having them instead write letters to family and friends. This works especially well if you send your kids to sleepaway camps. Ask that they send you letters to update you on all the fun activities they’re doing while they’re away.
You can also show them “Through the Mail.” Through the Mail is a method that encourages children to write to their favorite professional athletes in exchange for autographs. It’s easy to find each team’s address on the “team by team” tab of NFL’s, MLB’s, or almost any other sports site.
(Image credit: Cathy T)
I love the website Cardboard Connections. It contains a step-by-step approach for writing the best letter possible in order to get those autographs back. Through the Mail has been around for years and if you’re the parent of a sports-minded kid, consider it a great option. Encourage your child to set a goal of four letters to improve their writing skills and to better their chances of getting an autograph in return.
It’s no secret that many successful entrepreneurs struggled in school, yet they found ways to leverage their strengths. So I love the idea of encouraging children to start a business, no matter how small. And part of a successful business includes a written plan.
(Image credit: amy gizienski)
The Kidpreneurs website matches students with business coaches to help them develop and execute a business plan. Alternatively, the wildly popular book, Lemonade Stand Millionaire also teaches children of all ages an approach to follow their dreams.
Pen pals may seem like they’re from a bygone era (especially with text, Facebook and Snapchat at your kid’s fingertips). But actually, they’re alive and well!
Check out this video about the benefits of writing to new friends from overseas.
For a way to connect with pen pals, International Pen Pal Friend World has a host of options. The site matches kids with others throughout the world with similar interests.
I’ll never forget my sixth grade teacher, Mrs. Cameron, who told us that one of the most important classes we could take in middle school was typing. She was right! The ability to type quickly saves time and reduces frustration.
Students these days do not have the opportunity to take dedicated keyboarding classes… And with the rise of mobile, they may actually be faster with their thumbs!
So If your child is of the hunt and peck variety, consider a free online typing program this summer. I really like Edutyping. Check up on your child periodically to be sure he’s not looking at the keys as he types since this undermines the goal of being able to touch type.
And if they’re resistant? Just remind them that typing correctly is an even FASTER way to chat back and forth online with their friends!
When your child hits high school, talk starts fairly quickly about not only preparing for college, but also applying for jobs and special programs. One of the best ways to stand out? Create a website!
Then, your child can record their experiences, awards, and activities for prospective colleges. Younger high school students can also create a website and use it as a journal or blog. Most websites (WordPress, Wix) are free to register and easy to personalize.
Many high schoolers purchase a domain using their first, middle, and last name to create a website of their experiences, awards, and activities. First, a domain in your name is very cool, but secondly, it allows students to have a portfolio of sorts that they can share with admissions officers as they’re applying for college. Not every admissions department will take the time to review it, but the smaller ones will. It’s a great way to get your child to record their activities as they go along instead of at the last minute when it comes to submitting applications.
Studying for the SAT doesn’t have to be all about formal study sessions and test prep, especially during the summer. And the good thing about the SAT writing section is that it provides test takers with a broad theme that can be approached either formulaically or creatively.
So summertime is great for getting familiarized with the format, but also having some fun coming up with creative topics to write about. The best part about it? Because (again) there are no looming deadlines, you can have them pick away at it slowly and do once small practice session each day. And a great place to start might be using resources you can find online like Khan Academy’s writing practice section.
For most rising Seniors, college admission essays end up being a HUGE chore… but mostly because they wait until September or October when they’re in a time crunch and distracted with homework, sports, and other extra-curricular activities. So if you’re son or daughter will be working on their applications in the fall, summer is a great time to get a head start on writing your essays because they’ll have more time to think of topics and important achievements and get all their ideas out on paper without the pressure of a looming deadline.
Here’s how to take advantage of this and make your summer really count:
First, make sure you have a list of schools and their essay requirements. Not every school has the common application essay prompt, so be sure to separate the ones that don’t have it on your list.
Then, plan out a few brainstorming sessions for them to jot down their favorite accomplishments and achievements (this is their time to brag so don’t be shy!). From this more free-form writing exercise, you can work with them to pick out a few good overall topics to start writing their full essay from.
Do this and you’ll be way ahead of the game come September.
For kids, iPads generally mean apps, games, friends… fun stuff! So we can take advantage of those positive associations and build iPad use into the writing process as well. One way you can do that is through turning doodles into writing. A student who benefits from the tactile nature of handwriting can brainstorm his or her ideas on paper, capture of photo of his ideas, import the picture into a word processing app, and continue typing his work.
Or, if you have the iPad Pro or another writing compatible tablet, you can have them start off by handwriting their ideas directly onto the tablet itself. Here’s great demo:
Either way, you’re giving them the opportunity to change things up, so that they can customize the writing process to something that can be more enjoyable and sustainable.
Other students, who may have a little more resistance to getting starteed because they’re not naturally inclined to write, might do better speaking out loud to get going.
So try instead to use Siri or another voice dictation tool to have them verbalize their ideas into writing in a note or document first. Then, once the ball is already rolling, jumping into actual writing once something is already written becomes that much less of a barrier.
Half of the battle when it comes to getting students going with their writing isn’t even the writing itself… it’s coming up with ideas on what to write about. That’s why using an app like Evernote can be an amazing tool for getting that process going.
Download the App on all of the devices your child uses (you can create a free account), and then take advantage of their web clipper, photo scanner, and note-taking capabilities by having them start saving ideas! Anything that interests them… whether that’s a specific book, sports teams, fashion, etc. just starting this as a habit will have them slowly but surely building a massive catalogue of ideas they can tap into when it comes time to write. And it’s fun to collect ideas too!
How are you helping your child keep up with their writing skills?
Tell us in the comments below.
We’d love to hear tips and tricks on how you’re practicing writing over the summer.