Most children love stories and they all have amazing imaginations. With a little support and guidance, they can become a confident writer too.
It goes without saying that if you want to improve at something, first you have to practice. The more you practice, the better you will be. I’ve put together some practical ideas to help you encourage your child to enjoy writing. Let me know what you think and if you’ve used any of these ideas successfully, I would love to hear about it.
Help your children build their vocabulary skills by reading to them.
The more a child reads, the more they will be exposed to a wider vocabulary that will not only increase their understanding of the English language, it will help them develop ideas for their own writing. If they’re not an avid reader, they can still be exposed to the rich language of stories by listening to them being read aloud, or by using an audio app.
Play word games such as Scrabble, Boggle and Taboo.
Word puzzles, crosswords, word searches and any other word games are not only fun, they are challenging too. Doing them regularly will develop your child’s language skills, help them understand the meaning of different words and improve their spelling.
Writing is a creative process too.
Experimenting with different types of writing is a good way to encourage a child who’s reluctant to do it. By making a story box, full of interesting objects, or using prompts such as Story Cubes, you can provide visual aids to help with the story writing process.
Writing and art go well together. Let them bring their characters to life by drawing them. You can then encourage your child to write about their characters in the form of an interview. Comic strips are great fun to create too.
Write a letter.
There is nothing more rewarding than receiving a letter from someone, especially if it’s a reply to one you wrote. In the past, people expressed their love, their hopes and their dreams via a letter, pouring out their emotions onto paper. Sadly, letter writing is a dying art, replaced by emails, texts and social media messages, ones that don’t hold anywhere near the same value or meaning.
Get your child to write to a grandparent, aunt or uncle, or any other relative or friend. Don’t forget to let the recipient know to expect the letter and ask them to reply to your child. I guarantee both parties will love it and your child will be more than enthusiastic about writing back.
Create an inviting space.
My Storymakers studio is a place where children come to create and write stories, and to practice their writing. Inspired by the work we do, many of the children have made themselves a creative workspace at home, seeing the importance of having somewhere that is conducive to sitting, thinking and writing – an area they can call their own and that isn’t overtaken with piles of books, toys or junk.
Share your work.
It’s a big deal for any writer to share their work with others (even grown-up writers struggle with this). Writing is very personal and at the same time, whilst some will love your work, others may not. Find the positives in any written work your child wants to share with you, even if it’s a little rough around the edges. Praise them just for sharing it and talk about the story, using the ‘what if’ concept to improve upon ideas or to find new ones.
Being able to share your work with its intended audience is an ideal way to improve your writing and also to encourage you to keep going.
My Young Writer group have written and illustrated their own picture books. During the Easter holidays, we will be taking over a Storytime session at our local library, where the group will be reading out their stories to a bunch of preschool children.
Not only will this be an exercise in confidence building, the Young Writer group have worked incredibly hard on this project and have every right to feel proud of themselves for what they have achieved. They’ve grasped the concept of using simple, repetitive language in a rhythmical way to produce interesting and funny stories that I know the preschool children will love. Not only that, the group are inspiring a new generation to love stories and perhaps to want to write their own one day.
For many children, the rues of writing can feel restrictive and often complicated, but it’s important for them to have the freedom to express themselves through the written word. Many of the children who come to my creative writing club, Storymakers, are reluctant to write and I often wonder why. A theory of mine is they don’t want to get it wrong, or they are worried their handwriting isn’t neat enough.
One thing I make very clear is it’s ok to get it wrong, that’s what editing is for. The most important thing is to get those ideas down onto paper. It doesn’t have to be their neatest work either. I’m not going to judge them on their handwriting, but as long as they can read it themselves, so when they come back to edit it they know what they’ve written, that’s good enough!
No story is perfect the first time around. Most take many drafts before they are good enough to see the light of day. What children need to realise is with each draft, a story is slowly improved upon and this is the essence of learning to write.