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3 Ways to Improve Literacy Through Writing

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National Day on Writing is celebrated each October to highlight the evolution and art of writing. The National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) began this annual tribute in 2009. This movement is supported by the need for building literacy through writing.

Use these three simple ideas to improve literacy and communication through writing. Challenge yourself or your children to pick up a pencil and write something today!

1. Start a journal.

Journaling several times each week will improve speaking, reading, and communication skills. You can also use journaling as a form of stress relief because writing helps you to formulate emotions through words.

If you are new to journaling, try answering writing prompts or freewriting, which is writing as words come to your mind. Don’t worry if you don’t know where to start. The point of journaling is to simply write something.

The act of writing will help your brain produce ideas. Even if you write nonsense and random words or doodle, over time, writing in some way will help you to express what you do want to say much faster. Eventually, you’ll be able to look back on all the thoughts, feelings, and ideas you’ve written and acknowledge your growth as a writer.

Parent Tip: Instead of keeping a personal journal for yourself, keep a handwritten one for each of your kids. Try to write in it at least several times a year to share milestones and memorable moments. Print out pictures or cut out news articles and paste them within the pages. Then, when your children graduate high school, give it to them so that they can experience the cherished moments they may not remember. As sleek as digital scrapbooks look, the handwritten, personal touch will mean much more years from now.

For children who want or need regular writing practice, check out our English Language Arts 7 Writing Log suitable for middle and high school-level students. This free resource can inspire your kids to start a journal and write about relevant and age-appropriate topics.

Parent helps child with homework

2. Write a traditional letter. 

The ease and quickness of digital communication makes it simple to reach out to friends and family members. However, taking the time to handwrite a friendly, personal letter still holds value.

Handwriting a letter takes careful thought and time to craft. Because handwriting a letter takes more time to create, it gives you the opportunity to think about what you want to say and the words in which you want to express your thoughts to the recipient.

Typing a text message or making a social media post can be done so quickly that people often forget how their words will impact others before hitting Send. Handwritten letters are very special, especially for middle-aged and older generations.

If you are short on time, handwrite and mail thank-you notes, postcards, and other cards to share a moment of appreciation, sympathy, or congratulations.

With the effects of the pandemic taking their toll on interpersonal communication, reaching out to loved ones through snail mail is a great way to stay connected with those you cannot visit or contact through technology. Besides, who doesn’t love to receive personal mail that isn’t a bill?

Family working on paper

3. Read regularly.

Reading can be as simple as browsing an article in the newspaper or reading an online blog. Fluency in reading correlates to writing skills because you are exposed to vast vocabulary and writing styles that help you choose more precise words as you write.

For younger children who are unsure which genre or text type to read, encourage them to ask parents, teachers, friends, and librarians for guidance. These people can assist with identifying personal interests and either guide or supply them with texts that fit their interests. It doesn’t matter whether they like to read about video games or science-fiction; all reading is important to building literacy skills.

Exposing yourself to a variety of texts—from novels to informative news articles—will help you write for a purpose and form a tone most appropriate for what you want to convey to your audience, whether personal, academic, or professional.

Whether you are a beginner, novice, or professional writer, take a moment today to acknowledge one skill you use every day to communicate. Any time you write, you’re developing your personal style—a voice that’s unique to you.

Girl reading outside

Do you have any writing tips to share? Comment in the section below. Don’t forget to acknowledge National Day on Writing on social media by using the NCTE designated hashtag #WhyIWrite in your post!

Nicole_Thompson_2021-1Nicole Thompson is a contributing writer and editor to the Lincoln Learning blog. She brings more than a decade of experience in education, curriculum, and communications to her blogs. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Communications and a Master of Science in Instructional Leadership, with certifications in secondary English and Communications. Nicole is married with four children and has a spunky golden retriever named Cinder and a rescue dog named Annie Banannie.