We hear over and over about the importance of raising kids who like to read. But don’t forget to raise kids who enjoy writing as well. While not every child will write for a living or even for a hobby, their lives will be either enhanced or make poorer because of either skill in writing or an inability to write. How can you help a child enjoy writing?
How to Raise a Writer: Write Yourself
I enjoyed writing since I was a child. Today, I still write daily. My kids see me blogging, typing up childhood memories, and writing letters. If your kids see that writing is a normal part of your day, most likely they’ll start making it part of their days as well.
Encourage Kids to Write About What they Enjoy
I taught elementary school for eight years, and for each of those years we had a daily writing workshop. No matter what the grade I taught (and I taught grades 2,3,4 and 6), during this time the kids were involved in writing on topics of their choice, an hour a day.
I think the key here is choice. Would you like it if I asked you to spend the next hour writing a paper about how an ice cream cone engages each of your five senses? I wouldn’t either – and neither would most kids! But, when you give kids the option of writing a story of their own choosing, usually the floodgates come open. At first, kids may simply regurgitate the plot of a favorite movie or TV show, but it’s a beginning. It’s learning how to compose sentences.
Go Easy on Mechanics
Nothing is more discouraging to a budding writer than being handed back an essay full of red marks. Try to stifle the urge to correct your child; instead, praise whatever you can find that he’s doing right. Does the story have a good plot? An interesting setting? An unusual character? Point that out, and the rest will improve.
Proofread with your Child
When I was young and writing stories, my mom would often type my stories and “fix” the grammar and spelling. Then, I would read those stories and absorb some grammar lessons from the corrections. Try this with your own child. Or, choose one thing (spelling, subject/verb agreement, etc) to work on for a single story. The ark wasn’t built in a day …
Use the Computer
Kids today have a huge advantage over us when we grew up – they have computers. The aspect of writing that tends to slow many kids down is the sheer problem of fine motor skills with a pencil and paper. Throw in the requirement to write in cursive, and many kids (especially boys) will just give up. So, encourage your kids to type up a story on the computer. They can easily edit their stories, add images, and change fonts.
Remember: encourage, go slow, give choice. Happy writing to you and your kids!