How to get your kids to write better – and enjoy it

Now that many of our children are going back to school after the summer break, it reminded me that when my son was at high school I had to suppress my screams when reading through his English assignments every time I saw a spelling or grammar mistake.

How to get your kids to write better - and enjoy it

As with so many things, acting as a coach for your child to help them write better and enjoy it, will go a long way towards achieving that goal.

Despite being utterly ignorant of the “right” way to handle this my instincts told me not to threaten him with castration if I ever saw another “it’s” when it should be “its,” but to move on to the big picture – the content of his writing and how it worked – and go back to the details later. [Read more…]

When your kids make you want to dig a hole and jump in…

HTWB Kids 2Thanks to my good friend Nance Larson who shared these prize cringe-makers recently in The Joke Street Journal

Ever notice how a 4-year-old’s voice is louder than 200 adult voices? [Read more…]

Some serious marriage wisdom, according to kids…

 

small__626627455Wondering what marriage really means? Kids have a way of hitting home with some very good answers…many thanks to my good friend Bill D. from New Hampshire for sharing these priceless quotes that were sent to him recently…

HOW DO YOU DECIDE WHO TO MARRY?

-You got to find somebody who likes the same stuff.  Like, if you like sports, she should like it that you like sports, and she should keep the chips and dip coming.
— Alan, age 10

-No person really decides before they grow up who they’re going to marry. God decides it all way before, and you get to find out later who you’re stuck with.
— Kristen, age 10

WHAT IS THE RIGHT AGE TO GET MARRIED?

-Twenty-three is the best age because you know the person FOREVER by then.
— Camille, age 10

HOW CAN A STRANGER TELL IF TWO PEOPLE ARE MARRIED?

-You might have to guess, based on whether they seem to be yelling at the same kids.
— Derrick, age 8

WHAT DO YOU THINK YOUR MUM AND DAD HAVE IN COMMON?

-Both don’t want any more kids.
— Lori, age 8

WHAT DO MOST PEOPLE DO ON A DATE?

-Dates are for having fun, and people should use them to get to know each other. Even boys have something to say if you listen long enough.
— Lynnette, age 8

-On the first date, they just tell each other lies and that usually gets them interested enough to go for a second date.
— Martin, age 10

WHEN IS IT OKAY TO KISS SOMEONE?

-When they’re rich.
— Pam, age 7

-The law says you have to be eighteen, so I wouldn’t want to mess with that.
– – Curt, age 7

-The rule goes like this: If you kiss someone, then you should marry them and have kids with them. It’s the right thing to do.
– – Howard, age 8

IS IT BETTER TO BE SINGLE OR MARRIED?

-It’s better for girls to be single but not for boys. Boys need someone to clean up after them.
— Anita, age 9

small__5732739316 (1)HOW WOULD THE WORLD BE DIFFERENT IF PEOPLE DIDN’T GET MARRIED?

-There sure would be a lot of kids to explain, wouldn’t there?
— Kelvin, age 8

HOW WOULD YOU MAKE A MARRIAGE WORK?

-Tell your wife that she looks pretty, even if she looks like a dump truck.
— Ricky, age 10

Want some serious writing wisdom? (instant downloads)

“Super Speeches”…how to write and deliver them well
“How To Write About Yourself”…how to make the most of yourself, whatever you need to write
The MAMBA Way to make your words sell“…how to think your way to superbly successful sales writing

photo credit: C.P.Storm via photopin cc
photo credit: Tones Photos via photopin cc

Mom, what is Butt Dust??

My grateful thanks as always, to my good friend Eleanor S. for sharing these “out of the mouths of babes and sucklings” classic kids’ quotes…

small__14902380 (1)What, you ask, is ‘Butt Dust’? Read on and you’ll discover the joy in it!

JACK (age 3)
… was watching his Mom breastfeeding his new baby sister. After a while he asked: ‘Mom why have you got two? Is one for hot and one for cold milk?’

STEVEN (age 3)
… hugged and kissed his Mom good night. ‘I love you so much that when you die I’m going to bury you outside my bedroom window.’

BRITTANY (age 4)
…had an ear ache and wanted a pain killer. She tried in vain to take the lid off the bottle. Seeing her frustration, her Mom explained it was a child-proof cap and she’d have to open it for her. Eyes wide with wonder, the little girl asked: ‘How does it know it’s me?’

SUSAN (age 4)
… was drinking juice when she got the hiccups. ‘Please don’t give me this juice again,’ she said, ‘It makes my teeth cough…’

DJ (age 4)
… stepped onto the bathroom scales and asked: ‘How much do I cost?’

CLINTON (age 5)
… was in his bedroom looking worried when his Mom asked what was troubling him, he replied, ‘I don’t know what’ll happen with this bed when I get married. How will my wife fit in it?’

MARC (age 4)
… was in a restaurant with his parents, engrossed in watching a young couple hugging and kissing at an adjacent table. Without taking his eyes off them, he asked his dad: ‘Why is he whispering in her mouth?’

TAMMY (age 4)
… was with her mother when they met an elderly, rather wrinkled woman her Mom knew. Tammy looked at her for a while and then asked, ‘Why doesn’t your skin fit your face?’

JAMES (age 4)
… was listening to a Bible story. His dad read: ‘The man named Lot was warned to take his wife and flee out of the city but his wife looked back and was turned to salt.’ Concerned, James asked: ‘What happened to the flea?’

And MARIETTE (age 4)
… was in church with her parents listening to this particular Sunday sermon…’Dear Lord,’ the minister began, with arms extended toward Heaven and a rapturous look on his upturned face. ‘Without You, we are but dust…’ He would have continued but at that moment Mariette leaned over to her mother and asked her shrill, very loud little four year old girl voice, ‘Mom, what is butt dust?’

Don’t you wish you could have them bronzed aged 3 or 4 and keep them like that forever?

Humor in writing from HowToWriteBetter.netMore cute humor: (instant downloads)

“The English Language Joke book”…hundreds of laughs about this crazy language of ours
The Bumper Book of Business Jokes“…over 500 wicked laughs about the workplace
How To Smile Through Cancer
…a cancer survivor’s journey
of life and laughter

photo credit: GerryT via photopin cc

How to make it fun for your kids to say thank you

Despite being older than Methuselah, I remember the agony of having to write “Thank You” letters to relatives I scarcely knew, thanking them for gifts I didn’t really like, after the festive season. (And after my birthday, too.)

But relatives – especially older ones – thrive on the little thank-you notes that kids send them in return for their kindness, and frankly, I can’t blame them. Particularly in the case of elderly grand and great-grand parents, who often aren’t on large incomes, buying for and sending gifts to little ones is an expensive and involving activity. A thank-you note in response is the least the kids can do to make them feel appreciated.

The great Thank-You note battle

Although some kids are pretty good and quite cheerfully write nice letters to people who have sent them gifts – however inappropriate – the majority, in my experience, wriggle and squirm in the days following Christmas whenever the subject of writing TY notes is raised.

I remember that one only too well. Just when you should be thinking about the New Year and extracting the most from whatever remaining school holidays I had, I was shackled down by my parents and made to write TY letters to these relatives and friends, some of whom I had never even met. Not fair!

But necessary all the same. How do we make it easier for them? I know they should really write out proper letters, original in thought and execution, but failing that here are a few hints that might make your kids’ TY letter writing a bit easier this year.

Buy – or make – some nice Thank You cards

There are plenty of ready-made “Thank You” cards available in most stationers and supermarkets, and there are some delightful handmade choices like these, available online. But if your kids are craft-orientated they could well enjoy the chance to make their own TY cards. Origination sources include cut-outs from Christmas cards, collages made from bits of Christmas wrapping paper, or – for the inspired – original art.

If one or more of your kids comes up with a good original design, scan it and reproduce it on card so that it can be used across the board. As you know, kids are more likely to take pride in their own work and so send it on with greater gravitas to the people they should be thanking.

Tell them they don’t have to write 100s of words

The whole point of the TY note is to acknowledge and express gratitude for the gift, not write a lengthy thesis about it. Although my late mother-in-law expected everyone to comment at length about the gifts she sent us and sneakily tested us with detailed questions to make sure we weren’t cheating, she – thankfully – was in the minority. Most people just appreciate a straight TY, with love.

Get them to release their artistic flair

There’s nothing that says a TY card or note just has to consist of words. It can be a drawing, painting or other work of art that your kids will enjoy putting together. As long as someone makes it clear to the recipient that this oeuvre is intended to express gratitude for their gift, everyone will be happy. For example…

1.Bake some cookies/biscuits (or make some homemade candy/sweets) as a family activity, and send a small box of the produce with a label saying Thank You

2.Earlier in the year, suggest the idea of making Thank You gifts to your children’s school, as this might be a useful project for them to work on pre-Holidays as an alternative to making Holiday decorations

3.Take a picture of your child using, holding, wearing, etc., each gift in question, print them out, then get your child to make and decorate cardboard frames for each one with the words “Thank You” on them

4.Immediately post winter (northern hemisphere) Holidays, buy a bunch of early daffodils or other spring flowers and get your kids to draw them. Scan the result (if there is more than one person to be thanked) OR take a picture of your kids with the flowers and print that out, then send as a TY gift, getting your kids to write “TY (message) – and here’s your first sight of Spring!”

5.Get your kids to compose a short poem of thanks, type it out nicely, print it out and send.

6.Make up a collage of photos of your family featuring foremost the child who is sending the TY, scan it and send with a short TY note.

7.Make some small papier maché trinket containers out of Christmas (or Birthday) wrapping paper and send those with a TY label (paint the containers over if required)

8.And for those bolshie boys … get them to write a few lines about their favourite game/sport/other heroes, and why the TY recipients should love them too. The recipients may not quite see the kids’ enthusiasm for them but will appreciate their sharing.

Good luck!

Got Holiday money or Amazon vouchers to spend? While you’re here, stop by my Bookshop…books and eBooks to help you write better from just $2.50 (less than £2.00!)

 

photo credit: muffintinmom via photopin cc
photo credit: Patrick Hoesly via photopin cc

Advice to young people: very real urban legends

More than ten years ago the following 11 “rules” were circulating widely on the internet, attributed to Bill Gates.  Since then, it was found out that Bill Gates never said or wrote them and that the various versions – that he’d said them in a speech, or in an article – were urban legends.

They were intended, apparently, to address “how feel-good, politically correct teaching has created a full generation of kids with no concept of reality and how this concept set them up for failure in the real world.”

Sadly, I can see little change in the attitudes of young people graduating from high schools and colleges today, over a decade later. So many thanks to whoever did write or say these rules, as I share them with you now. And apart from a few points that are out of date, like car phones, old-fashioned broadcast TV and “Friends” (Rule 10) … why has so little moved on since then?

RULE 1
Life is not fair – get used to it.

RULE 2
The world won’t care about your self-esteem. The world will expect you to accomplish something BEFORE you feel good about yourself.

RULE 3
You will NOT make 40 thousand dollars a year right out of high school. You won’t be a vice president with a car phone, until you earn both.

RULE 4
If you think your teacher is tough, wait till you get a boss. He doesn’t have tenure.

RULE 5
Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your grandparents had a different word for burger flipping; they called it “opportunity.”

RULE 6
If you mess up, it’s not your parents’ fault, so don’t whine about your mistakes; learn from them.

RULE 7
Before you were born, your parents weren’t as boring as they are now. They got that way from paying your bills, cleaning your clothes and listening to you talk about how cool you are. So before you save the rain forest from the parasites of your parent’s generation, try delousing the closet in your own room.

RULE 8
Your school may have done away with winners and losers, but life has not. In some schools they have abolished failing grades and they’ll give you as many times as you want to get the right answer. This doesn’t bear the slightest resemblance to ANYTHING in real life.

RULE 9
Life is not divided into semesters. You don’t get summers off and very few employers are interested in helping you find yourself. Do that on your own time.

RULE 10
Television is NOT real life. In real life people actually have to leave the coffee shop and go to jobs.

RULE 11
Be nice to nerds. Chances are you’ll end up working for one.

More help – for young business writers:

“Super Speeches”…how to write and deliver them well

“How To Write About Yourself”…how to make the most of yourself, whatever you need to write

“Banana Skin Words and how not to slip on them”…over 1,500 spelling and grammar tips to perfect your written English

css.php