Getting young students to write good stories is a challenge. Most youngsters can tell a great story, but are reluctant writers. I tell my students that writing is simply “telling” a story on paper. If you can tell a good story, you should be able to write one.
Parents can help their child become a good writer with simple techniques to practice. Here are my top 10 ways to help your child organize their story writing:
Help him practice telling stories. Practice should include the stories’ beginning, middle, and end. Once he masters that, practice retelling the same stories with more detail. Encourage additional story elements with questions like “Where did that take place?” “Was it daytime?” “How did that make you feel?”
Make writing easily accessible. Have a “writer’s box” with supplies handy. In a shoe box or other small container, keep a small notebook, different types of paper, sharpened pencils, crayons, markers, and other writing enticements.
Stress that the first sentence should be a “hook” that “catches” readers and makes them want know more. “You won’t believe what happened yesterday!” Or, “Have you ever heard a dog count?”
Don’t overuse “and.” When young writers get good thoughts flowing, they often end up with a story that is one long run-on sentence full of ands! Help them eliminate the and to show that each sentence is one complete thought. For example, instead of “Yesterday I went to the zoo and saw all different kinds of animals and my favorite were the monkeys and they were funny and we had a good time.” Help her break it down: Yesterday I went to the zoo. We saw all different kinds of animals. The monkeys were funny! We had a good time.
Help him stick to the topic.
Pay attention to sequence. The order in which things happen helps the reader have a better understanding of the story.
Use a variety of words and synonyms. For example, help her brainstorm different ways to say “big.”
Have him double check for capital letters at the beginning of sentences and proper nouns.
Encourage question and exclamation sentences. Have her go back and check her ending marks. “I took my dog out for a walk. All of a sudden it started to rain! Has that ever happened to you?”
Go for a “punch” ending that ties the ideas together. “My day at the zoo was the best day I’ve ever had!”
With a little practice you can help your great storyteller become a great author!
Connie McCarthy is passionate about her work as a teacher of young children. She has devoted her entire career to making sure that her students do well at school, right from the start. Connie has an undergraduate degree in Elementary Education, and a Master’s Degree in Special Education. She has been teaching first grade in East Providence, R.I. for 23 years, where she received the distinction of “Highly Qualified Teacher” by the Rhode Island State Board of Regents. Connie also taught nursery school for four years, and published numerous articles on early education in East Bay Newspapers in Bristol, R.I. She’s also been published in PTO Today Magazine. She lives with her husband, Brian, and has a daughter and a son, both young adults. Connie enjoys reading, writing about elementary education, and taking long walks with friends. During summer vacations, she likes to travel with her husband. She also loves reading readers’ comments on her weekly blog posts.