Basic Writing Skills for Kids + BONUS 15 Fun Writing Prompts to Help Kids Improve Their Writing Skills
Basic writing skills are one of the most valuable lessons children can learn from a young age. Developing writing skills early on helps kids as they progress through school and allows them to grasp grammatical concepts more easily.
Good Writing Starts with the Basics
Most importantly, basic writing skills are a hugely important quality for older students and adults to have (regardless of their career path)—so it only makes sense to start this process as early as possible!
Truly, one can never go wrong in becoming a better writer.
Whether you’re teaching basic grammar skills, spelling, sentence and paragraph structure, or any other writing rules, kids will get more out of the lessons the earlier they start. If you’re ready to help your writer learn to develop their distinct writing style, then read on because…
You’ll learn more about which skills are most important for students to have and how to use writing prompts to help kids develop their writing skills.
Five Basic Writing Skills Students Should Learn Early On
1. Proper Spelling and Punctuation Marks
One of the first challenges young students face when learning how to write is understanding how to use proper spelling and punctuation.
This should come as no surprise—written language is very different than spoken language and has its own unique rules. Furthermore, the English language is notorious for its challenging quirks and many inconsistencies. However, proper spelling and punctuation are the foundation for all effective written communication and it’s imperative for kids to learn them (even in the age of spellcheck and autocorrect!).
2. Good Reading Comprehension
Before kids can write, they need to be able to read—which is why good reading comprehension is such an important skill to have. Reading comprehension entails many things, but at its root, it is the ability to read a piece of writing and effectively glean its meaning.
For young students, that means they need to be able to:
- Read and know the meaning of many of the words in the text
- Sound out or somehow look up the meaning of words they don’t know
- Understand how the words in a sentence, paragraph, or full piece of work relate to one another—and what they mean when taken as a whole entity
Once kids have begun to grasp the concept of reading at a base level, they should also begin learning how to think critically about the work and infer meaning from what is or isn’t said as a part of good reading comprehension.
3. Sentence and Paragraph Structure
In order to further develop their basic writing skills, students must also learn about the structure of writing—namely, how to construct a proper sentence and paragraph.
This skill is aided substantially through reading practice, but it’s especially important to focus on it deliberately because it is an area of writing many children struggle with. As kids learn to write, they often have a tough time with things like proper tense, placing modifiers and verbs in the correct places, or writing incomplete and run-on sentences.
In order to help develop this skill, be sure to teach your students about the various parts of speech and the role that different types of sentences (declarative, descriptive, inquisitive, etc.) play in writing.
4. Knowledge of Different Types of Writing
Once students have a firmer grasp on composing clear sentences and paragraphs, they can begin learning about different types and genres of writing. To communicate effectively, students should be able to write in different styles and tailor their messages to an appropriate audience.
For example, if a student is writing a short story, the work should include aspects like a setting, plot, dialogue, character descriptions, and a resolution or ending. A research essay should include a thesis statement, facts, supporting arguments, and citations—while a persuasive essay should also include appeals to logic or emotion that would be out of place in a more academic piece of writing.
Ultimately, learning when and how to use various elements in a given piece of work is an important basic writing skill that all young students should learn.
5. Editing and Rewriting
Experienced writers will tell you that above all else, writing is rewriting—which means that the first draft of anything is very rarely what should make it out into the world. Truly quality writing is born in the revision process, and thus, the ability to edit and rewrite is perhaps the most important basic writing skill of all that kids should learn.
The need to edit and rewrite a piece of writing might sound like extra work to kids, but it can actually make the overall process of writing much easier. Knowing that you will go back later to edit a piece can be freeing, as it removes a lot of the pressure to make it perfect from the beginning.
Instead, kids can simply begin pouring their ideas out on the page and see where their pens take them—and then they can go back, step-by-step, to make corrections and improvements to further develop their writing.
15 Fun Writing Prompts and Topics to Help Kids Improve Their Basic Writing Skills
- Write the sentence, “Let’s have lunch on Tuesday” out on a piece of paper three times—once ending it with a period, once with a question mark, and once with an exclamation point. How does the punctuation at the end change the tone and meaning of the sentence?
- Write about three different times when you might use a comma in a sentence. Include an example to go with each one.
- “Matt and Peter played basketbal at resess. The game ended win the bell rang? Peter wins, bye seven points.” There are seven spelling and punctuation mistakes in the previous sentence. Correct the sentence and explain how and why you fixed each mistake.
- The words “there,” “their,” and “they’re” are homonyms—words that sound the same but have different meanings. Explain the different meanings of each of these words and use each one in a sentence.
- If you are reading and find a word you don’t know, what are some good ways to learn how to pronounce it? How would you also find out what the word means if you didn’t know?
- Read a chapter from your favorite book. Then, summarize what happened in your own words. Be sure to include key details that answer the questions “Who?”, “What?”, “When?”, “Where?”, and “Why?”.
- “We went to the store and bought groceries then we went to the park and played and we bought dinner at McDonald’s to take home.” What is wrong with this sentence? Why is it confusing? How would you rewrite it?
- “Sally does her homework every night last week. She studied hard and so she was happy when she gets an A on Friday.” What is wrong with these two sentences? How would you correct them—and why?
- What is the difference between a declarative sentence and a question? Write an example of each one.
- Imagine you are writing a short story. What key elements (such as a plot) should the story include? Describe why each of these is important.
- What role does a thesis statement play in an essay? Why is it important to have one? Where should the thesis statement appear in the essay?
- Why wouldn’t you include a thesis statement in a short story or a poem? What elements should you include instead?
- What types of things should you look for when you edit a piece of writing? What are some good ways to identify these issues?
- Take a piece of writing you’ve completed in the past. Re-read it and then complete several rounds of editing. First, look for spelling and punctuation mistakes. Then, make sure you’ve used proper verb tenses everywhere. Finally, find places where you can use stronger word choices.
- Choose a favorite children’s book or several pages from a favorite story and rewrite them in your own words. Then, write about what you changed—and why you made those rewriting decisions.
Use fun, imaginative learning tools like these writing prompts to help kids become familiar with the basic writing skills they’ll need to become good writers and perhaps even great writers!
Until next time, write on…
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More Free Resources & Links
- 6 Writing Skills Kids Need for Written Expression
- 6 Ways to Improve Writing Skills for Students
- 49 ESL Writing Topics to Support English Writing Skills Development
- Writing Workshop Tips & Tricks
- Teaching Writing Skills: 30 New Journal Prompts
The following article was originally published in Jan 2013 and may also be of interest to our readers. 🙂
It is essential that children develop basic writing skills at a young age. Writing skill development at a younger age helps kids as they progress through school. Moreover, when kids start writing practice at an early age, they tend to grasp concepts more easily.
Whether teachings are about basic grammar skills, correct spelling, sentence, and paragraph structure, or any other writing rules and skills, the sooner the learning starts and the more in-depth the lessons are, the more kids are going to get out of it. So grab a notebook and get your kids exploring the basics of the writing process today. And remember, repetition is key to learning.
Some Basic Writing Skills Benefits
At a young age, kids learn easily through various tools and developmental teachings. Using imaginative reasoning, rather than sitting them down in front of the chalkboard is a superior teaching method.
For example, using flashcards with pictures, fun books, and videos, as well as different color pens and pencils to teach children about grammar rules or sentence structures, are all great options to use with young kids. Due to their shorter attention span, the basic writing skills that are taught must be easy to grasp and understand.
Creative writing should also be a part of the education kids receive relative to basic writing skills. Imagination and creativity are not only going to help them develop their writing, but they will also help kids engage more in learning this valuable life skill. Having children create characters, scenes, plots, or an imaginative storyline as part of their learning experiences will help them to engage more deeply in the process of learning to write.
Structure and Form
Proper writing structure, sentence formation, punctuation, paragraph breaks, sentence breaks, and other basic writing skills must be taught to children. To do so, the use of games is a great tool for teachers or parents to use. Fun is a great way to teach kids the most basic writing rules that are required as they develop their writing mastery.
No matter how you choose to teach kids to write, it is best if you start as early as possible. The sooner the better if you ask us! Additionally, when you start with fun, basic, and imaginative learning tools kids are going to be more inclined to engage in learning basic writing skills.
Whether it is at home or at school, using fun teaching methods to get the most basic writing skills down is the best way to start when you are teaching basic writing skills to kids.