The best way to teach children how to write is with clear and explicit instruction. Plus, making it fun and engaging of course! Free trial
According to an extensive study by the Australian Education Research Organisation (AERO) there has been a decline in children’s writing skills over the last seven years. From 2011 to 2021 AERO analysed 10 million NAPLAN writing results. The key findings demonstrate a dramatic drop in children’s writing abilities and serious long-term implications.
The unnerving results indicate that more attention needs to be focused on teaching children how to write to solidify this crucial skill. According to this research, the explicit teaching of writing needs to be prioritised across all subjects throughout kids’ school careers. The report stated some alarming writing statistics, with a pronounced dip in the following areas:
Persuasive writing – Only 15% of Year 9 students used persuasive devices effectively.
Sentence Construction – 85% of Year 9 students are constructing sentences at or below Year 7 level.
Punctuation – Most Year 9 students applied punctuation to their writing at a Year 3 level.
The good news is there are easy, fun writing activities and ideas that parents or carers can use to teach kids how to write. It’s important to instil a love of writing in children and make sure they understand that writing has a purpose. Children need to understand why they are writing, who they are writing for and that we write for all kinds of reasons.
Want some practical ways to help teach your child how to write? Try these eleven simple writing tips to help strengthen their writing skills and don’t forget to praise their efforts along the way.
It’s a great idea to provide a comfortable place where children can write. Kids love to experiment so provide them with a variety of writing materials and implements. Supply colourful crayons, markers and beginner pencils that are easy to hold for emerging writers.
Excite older children with different kinds of papers, diaries, pencils, pacers, markers and pens. Just like a book nook, this needs to be a space that inspires children and that they enjoy using.
It’s important that children understand that there are many purposes to writing. Some of the reasons we write are to inform, persuade, entertain or explain. Writing is also a great way to express feelings.
Seeing adults write is a great way to show children where writing fits into daily life and it offers a chance to explain why we write and in what context. Help your child see how necessary writing is and how enjoyable it can be to write.
Show them how often you write during your day for all kinds of reasons; Children can then get involved in practical writing activities at home, such as contributing to the family calendar, diary, noticeboard, or messages on the fridge.
Use opportunities where your child can contribute, such as letting them write their name on a birthday or thank you card, rather than writing it for them.
Help your preschooler or get your older child to write letters to their grandparents, a friend, or even their future selves. If your child loves gags encourage them to write jokes to share with their family.
Plan a fun, purposeful writing activity where they won’t even realise they’re practising their writing skills! For example, get your child to trace or write the labels for pantry items or caption photos in a scrapbook.
ABC Reading Eggs Junior offers fun, guided tracing activities that teach children how to write alphabet letters. Free trial.
If your child is new to writing, start with beginner skills like pencil grip practice and tracing the letters of the alphabet. Show your child how to hold a pencil with three fingers, in a tripod grip. This will give them more control when they write. Show your child how they can trace their ABCs with their finger in alphabet books or printouts.
They can also hone this skill on the go with online reading programs like Reading Eggs. There’s plenty of colourful activities where kids can practise tracing letters with helpful guidance from the program.
Once your little one has mastered tracing, move on to freehand writing of letters. Shaving cream on a shower screen is a fun, tactile way for kids to practise this skill. Try a few letters each night at bath time.
Also, give them lots of encouragement with writing the alphabet on paper and eventually congratulate your child on the big milestone of writing their name. It’s also okay for kids to copy writing at a young age too.
Reading helps with writing, and vice versa. Read together every day when your child is younger to strengthen their writing skills. Just by cuddling up with a book, they’ll be working on everything from their vocabulary, spelling to comprehension. Allow children to lead with their interest in books, by choosing from hundreds of e-books on all topics in the ABC Reading Eggs Library.
Discuss what you’re reading with your child and ask them about the books they read, too. Ask more complex questions depending on your child’s age. Make sure they’re understanding the text.
Get your child to read their writing to you, or you can read it out loud to them. Don’t forget to praise them for their efforts! Point out when they’ve used great adjectives, spelled a difficult word correctly or tried to write neatly.
Make it easy for yourself by taking advantage of engaging resources such as free writing printables. Preschool and kindergarten children need lots of practice so print out different variations for beginning skills.
Build on this by seeking out more challenging printables for older children to help introduce concepts like verbs, nouns or adjectives and how they can use them in their writing.
Engaging in fun, creative writing activities and using well-designed online writing games is the perfect way to keep children motivated. Free Trial
Help children hone their writing skills by playing fun writing games. This is the best way to keep kids on track, so they complete the activity they are practising without even realising they’re learning.
Get back to basics with this sentence-level work activity for younger children:
Write simple sentences together then cut out the verb from each. Cut up a pile of other verbs so that the child can generate different sentences.
For example, I run in the park. skip…hop…play…ride…dig etc. They can then write out one or all of the sentences.
Children who are more advanced with their writing skills can create a script for a play and then get dressed up and perform it. They’ll love seeing their writing come to life! Conduct an interview, providing them with written questions they can answer as a famous playwright. Ask what inspired their script and what they were trying to say.
Online writing games within safe, educational apps are another way to keep your child engaged with writing and they can do this on the go which is a bonus!
Creative writing prompts are a fantastic way to get children writing, while avoiding the dreaded refrain they love to use, “I don’t know!” Use pets, favourite characters and questions that make them think to help them write.
For younger kids’ writing prompts, try simple sentences where they can suggest a word. If they’re not able to spell or write yet, write it for them and praise them for their contribution. They can copy the word or the whole sentence if appropriate. Help your child form the letters and spell the words. If they’re learning to write words simple words, they can add the word themselves.
Writing prompt ideas for preschoolers or kindergarten children:
My favourite animal is a ….
I like to eat …
… makes me happy
My favourite colour is …
I am … years old
Ask older children to expand on their answers. It could be a sentence, a paragraph, or even longer if they’re keen to write more. Give these writing prompts a go for primary school-aged children, and adjust according to their age or ability:
What is your favourite movie character and why?
What would you choose as your superpower and how would you use it in your everyday life?
Who is your best friend? What do you enjoy doing when you’re together?
Make learning to write fun to encourage and motivate the child. For preschoolers try pre-writing activities such as:
Flour tray finger writing
Create Play-Doh letters together
Pretend writing with a crayon on paper and get them to tell you what they’ve written.
Repetition with online games is a great way to get concepts to stick for children young and old, without the mess!
For older children, why not try a persuasive writing activity? According to the AERO study, this was a skill that children struggled with. Explain the purpose of persuasive writing to your child. Persuasive texts give a point of view that is factual. They are used in writing to influence or persuade others.
If your child is keen on the latest fad toy, desperate for a pet or after the birthday party of their dreams, get them to write about it. Ask them to convince you with their very best persuasive writing.
From the time they are tiny children love being read to or told a story. Many of us incorporate bedtime stories into their routines. Once they’ve started on their writing journey, why not help your child to write a story?
For younger children, parents can act as scribes, so kids can see that their spoken words and ideas can be mapped to letters and constructed as sentences. Your child can eventually have a go at writing random letter strings and you should encourage them to tell you what they are writing.
This will reinforce the idea that writing has purpose and value. You can then display your child’s writing or work with them to turn it into a book!
Discuss that stories can come in all kinds of formats. If your child loves comics, poems, or graphic novels, show them how they can create their own.
Allow your older child to let their imagination run wild too, coming up with their own short story or chapter book if they’re ready to create one. Don’t forget to praise what they’ve come up with and how they’ve written it.
ABC Reading Eggs’ Story Factory feature gives children a step‑by‑step guide to writing a story – perfect for encouraging your child's writing skills at home. Weekly contests give children the chance to collect 200 Golden Eggs. If your child wins the contest, their written book is added to the library for everyone to read.
Show your child that their point of view matters and how powerful the written word can be with a journal. Self-expression is an important part of learning to write and is also a great way to get emotions out for children and help their mental health.
A writing journal is a brilliant way to get into a daily writing routine without worrying too much about writing perfectly.
Keep track of the books they have read with a reading journal. Writing a simple sentence or two about what they liked about the book, who their favourite character was and how they would rate it. This will help with not only keeping track of all the books they’ll be proud to have added to the journal but also help their writing, problem-solving and grammar skills.
Check out the fabulous new Reading Eggs Journal that will foster a love of reading and writing for your child. Get a free trial today.
ABC Reading Eggs is dedicated to helping children master all the crucial literacy skills that keep them on track for success as young learners, at school and beyond. Developed by educational experts, there are hundreds of literacy-based games and activities to hone skills from the time they are two until they hit their teens.
The program grows with your child and works at their very own level. Plus, there are motivating prompts like the Story Factory and the Reading Journal to encourage them to flex their writing muscles every day.
Write with Story Factory – Free within Reading Eggs, this great feature gives Eggsplorers the opportunity to create their very own story books, with full colour illustrations! Once they’ve written their masterpiece, you can print it out to create a real book your child can hold in their hands. Your child’s story books can also be saved in the bookshelf in your Eggsplorer’s house.
The Reading Eggs Journal – Build a love of reading and writing for your child! This exciting interactive, customisable feature helps kids with their writing skills. It also gives them ownership over the books they choose to read and tracks what they thought of their reading experience. Your child will adore decorating each page with colourful options.
Your child will love writing about all the books they are reading today in the most fun, motivating way! Get them started with a free trial of ABC Reading Eggs and they’ll also have access to hundreds of engaging reading games and activities to hone crucial literacy skills.
Poor writing ability can affect children in their future schooling or career and can be detrimental to their confidence. Start helping your child with the easy tips above. Educational programs that take children through all the important steps needed to solidify their literacy skills are also a way to safeguard them from falling behind and feeling overwhelmed.
AERO has recommended that the importance of teaching writing be elevated across schools. As parents, we can also give our children a leg up so they can become strong writers during their school years and beyond.
Children’s poor writing skills can be detrimental in multiple ways, so it’s best to address and keep focussed on harnessing this skill set from the time they are beginning writers. Avoid problems snowballing as they make their way through their school years. It can affect social situations and their future workplace. It’s never too early or late to start honing children’s writing skills.
Support your child to learn how to write so they don’t fall behind. Who knows your child could be the first writer in your family to crack the bestseller books lists thanks to your efforts and ABC Reading Eggs!