Easy Ways Parents Can Encourage Kids to Write
by Susan Stephenson, www.thebookchook.com
While many parents build special time for reading into family life, we don’t all do the same for writing. I believe we should. Why not call these times "read o'clock" and "write o'clock", the way I do. Don’t worry about what time precisely to do this. It doesn't matter WHEN we fit reading and writing into each day, so long as we do.
We need to make sure our kids know that writing is important and an activity we value. That means ensuring they see us writing, whether that be a grocery list, a note for a friend, or a recipe we're creating. Little ones will want to copy us right then and there, so it’s a great idea to have some writing materials available especially for them.
Before children start school, writing is mostly scribble with some letters thrown in, and maybe a picture for good measure. This is an important stage for kids. They gradually become aware of words and letters in their environment, and often want to copy what we write. Having kids write their own grocery list when we shop together is a great way to include writing AND make a shopping trip fun. Food clip art can help them make a list, and they get to cross off items as we shop.
As children master the early stages of writing, it’s important to keep write o'clock going. It's a good idea to be alert to opportunities that call for writing. Birthday party? Invitations and thank you cards. Kids nagging for something? Have them present their ideas on paper. Camping holiday? Lists galore! Often youngsters will have their own interesting ideas for writing activities, but if not, here are some more suggestions:
* Help children create a comic strip, perhaps using software, or an online editor like Professor Garfield.
* Write a letter to someone real or imaginary, persuading them about something. Maybe your child might want to persuade The Big Bag Wolf to change his ways, or talk the Prime Minister/President into having more school holidays.
* Take a photo or find an image and write a caption to accompany it - more details in my article, Writing Fun for Kids - Create a Caption.
* Create a character - with words, a picture, even act it out - and use this character in a story.
* Write instructions to explain something you know how to do, perhaps how to build something in LEGO, or how to blow up a balloon.
* Link writing with reading when that works for you. If kids are unhappy with the way a story ends, you might suggest they write a new ending. If they adore a book character, they may be thrilled to write more adventures for him/her. Some children will love the idea of recording all the books they read and writing a single sentence about each one.
Apart from the importance of regular daily writing, for however short a time, and having our kids catch us writing, here are some more tips. If our kids already have writing homework, that counts! I want children to enjoy writing as much as I do, and turning it into a chore won’t help. As much as possible, write o’clock activities need to be short and fun. Having special writing stuff like cute paper and pens, or being able to borrow Dad’s iPad, helps make daily writing time something children look forward to.