In our last Literacy at Home series blog we discussed how older students read to learn. Very similarly, once a child has mastered writing mechanics and the act of learning to write, they are able to begin the process of writing to learn. No longer are their brains solely focused on letter formation, handwriting, and other mechanics. They now can use writing as a tool to communicate and comprehend across genres.
While it is common to see this switch from learning to write to writing to learn around the intermediate elementary grades, keep in mind this is not a one size fits all situation. Furthermore, many students with learning challenges might need to spend more time focusing on writing mechanics even after they have begun to embark on more challenging writing tasks.
Your children and teenagers will spend many hours at school engaging in writing to learn activities. However, you might be interested in how you can help facilitate these skills while at home. We've put together six ways you can encourage these literacy activities at home.
The act of journaling is a fantastic way to help writers strengthen their processing, fluency, communication, and comprehension skills. Journaling allows children and teens to process their thoughts and feelings about whichever topic in a way that feels more low-stakes and refreshingly vulnerable.
Combining the act of journaling with reading comprehension tasks can be a wonderful way to increase learning through writing. I would caution parents to allow this type of reading reflection to be more free-form and voluntary, however. If every time a reader enjoys a book they have to complete a task, the enjoyment of reading can potentially start to wane.
Similar to reading journals, summary writing can help writers display their level of comprehension of a text or topic. It's not as easy as many might think. Capturing the main ideas of a text in a succinct way that doesn't fall into the trap of retelling each part, is actually quite challenging.
Letters are a fun and unique way to engage students in writing to learn. Many would even argue that in today's tech-rich world, letter writing is a lost art. Crafting letters allows young writers to practice with this lost art and offers another genre of writing to their repertoire. One fun task is to have your child write letters from a different time period or as book characters.
Another place writing to learn might crop up is through projects. Projects can oftentimes bridge schoolwork and homework as learners spend many hours completing them. For many projects there are typically moments through the process where a child or teen would need to write (hypothesis, observations, conclusions, etc.). Keep in mind, this type of writing can be challenging for writers and giving them fun opportunities to practice can help.
Writing Across Genres
One of the biggest components of writing to learn is writing across genres (history, mathematics, reading, science, etc.). It is important to understand that just because someone can write in one genre, doesn't mean all of those skills automatically transfer. Genre writing is very specific to each subject area and requires explicit instruction and practice.
If your child or teen is struggling with writing to learn tasks and you need more supplemental help, make sure to reach out to Parallel to see how we can support you.