How to Extend Writing Through Better Word Choice
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One way to help children develop into more sophisticated writers is to teach them about the importance of their word choice when writing. Thoughtful word choice helps young authors say exactly what they mean which in turn makes their writing clear, concise, and compelling.
It is easy for young writers, particularly those that may struggle with writing, to fall into the habit of using the same words over and over when they write. Many developing writers try to fill up space with empty words (i.e. nice, great, very and fun) rather than take the time to use more meaningful words. Some ways to help them overcome this habit include:
- Write: Children can only become better writers then they have ample opportunities to practice writing for a variety of purposes. Over the summer, it may be difficult to make time for writing. Journaling, writing letters or taking a writing class are all ways to incorporate writing practice over the summer break.
- Encourage writers to reread their work when they are finished and challenge them to circle overused words. For each word that they circle, ask them to think more specifically about what they are trying to say. For example, if they are using the word “pretty” to describe a flower, ask them to think about what makes that flower pretty rather than just calling it pretty. Remember specific is terrific.
- Use a thesaurus and dictionary. Even though having these types of books physically in the classroom or at home is becoming less likely, these tools are still accessible online. Using these resources will also help children better understand the meaning of new words and learn about synonyms and antonyms.
- Increase vocabulary. Having an extensive vocabulary will provide authors with a larger repertoire of words to choose from when they are trying to decide on the “just right” word they want to use. You can increase vocabulary by:
- Having a “Word of the Day” or “Word of the Week”. Pick a word and introduce it by noting its spelling and definition. Then use it in a sentence. Have your child use it in a sentence. See how many times everyone can use that word throughout the day/week. Record each new word in a designated notebook so that writers can access it when needed.
- Reading every day. Reading every day will naturally increase a child’s vocabulary. Remind children to look up any words that they don’t know and write them down.
- Playing word board games or puzzles. Crossword puzzles, JUMBLE and Boggle are just a few examples of the multitude of engaging word games that will help improve vocabulary and language skills.
Following these guidelines will help your child begin to view words as tools that can be used to articulate exactly what they mean and produce more engaging and appealing writing.