I have always been interested in writing. This stems from good teachers, an inspirational mother and a keen interest. These factors may not always prevail in everyday life, but because of this one skill, I have always had the good fortune of acing exams, writing posts for blogs and earlier on life I also dabbled in a little poetry. No doubt good writing skills can aide you throughout life. But it helps if this skill is fostered when children are very young. If you want to help your child improve his/her writing skills, you'll need two things: persistence and half an hour to forty minutes of your day- and a note book and pencil of course.
The ideas are incorporated in three parts of the half an hour I mentioned above:
First ten minutes: Ask you child to read a story book that appeals to his interests, whether it be a joke book, a comic, a mystery, whatever takes his fancy. A page or two is enough. The concept of proper sentence formation and grammar usage gets imprinted sub consciously while the child is reading. Trust me, if it's the one thing a child hates and is bored to death by, its studying nouns and verbs and pronouns and tenses. He gets plenty of that at school. Just make sure to start at your child's level. Some children are way below their counterparts at school while some children are not challenged enough.
The next ten minutes: Now you want to build his vocabulary. I suggest going over five words with your child everyday with a theme. Either the words can be chosen from the story book he just read previously or it could be another set of words like five words that all mean 'nice' or compound words, or the names of different flowers.The idea is to expose your child to the English language. Writing can not be done well unless there is a good word bank your child is familiar with. These words are not to be learned, just discuss and observe the spellings. If the child is older and more apt, you can do similes and metaphors also.
The last ten minutes: Finally you get down to the nitty gritty of the actual writing. Have your child do a writing activity that preferably uses the words he learned above, but its not necessary. There are so many things that can be done: description of a picture, three to five sentences on how his day was, a description of someone or something. It does not have to be a full on essay...just a couple of lines to build up confidence, aiming at quality rather than quantity. Again the object is open the child's mind to writing so don't be judgmental on his mistakes. Point them out gently and I'm sure he or she will be more cautious next time. Just don't get into the rules in depth. Children pick up very quickly.
Using the internet for vocabulary ideas, and fun writing activities is a good way to engage.
Some fun writing activities:
As an after thought, I think, judging from the way my children are being taught, that the quality of developing writing skills has actually deteriorated despite the tech savvy environment. But that's just me, what are your views? I remember my teachers doing brainstorming sessions with us, extensive discussions and practice of using descriptive words, having a whole period dedicated to vocabulary and spelling twice a week.
I realize that writing skills are no longer regarded as valuable as they were back in the day due to apps and software that do all the work for you, but when it comes to presentation in exams and other vital real life situations in the day to day, it is still a skill worth building.