Ready, steady, write
Writing is a significant part of our daily lives, we use it to achieve simple and complex things in life. Everybody writes in some capacity or another – a doctor writes out prescriptions for his patients, a chef writes his invigorating recipes, a shopper writes a shopping list, an author writes their story with an opening, a singer eventually writes the lyrics to their song, children write their birthday wish list… and the list goes on.
Writing is an art and acts as a form of communicating or a way to express feelings/thoughts to another person(s) – it can be used in many different ways and with technological advances these days, you can write on endless platforms.. It is very important that children grow up as confident writers, where they are able to express themselves freely, moreover critically, and can write for different purposes. According to figures from the National Literacy Trust in 2015, just one fifth of children and young people write daily outside the classroom. A possible reason for this is the lack of enjoyment in writing.
So what can we do to get our children interested in writing and develop them as writers? Read on to find some practical ways to encourage your child to not only write more but to develop a passion for writing.
1. Make it meaningful; write for different purposes.
Writing isn’t just about telling a story, it could form anything from a letter to a diary account. You can make writing more meaningful by providing your child with different (and creative) opportunities to write, for example, ask them to write the shopping list for you or instructions explaining how to play their favourite game. Why not even do some cooking together and get them to write the recipe? The list is endless but the key ingredient is to make it fun and purposeful for them. If children see a purpose to their writing, they will give more value to it.
2. Create a word jar.
Ask your child to fill up a jar with exciting and new vocabulary collected/learnt throughout the week. At the end of the week, play a game with the words by writing sentences with those words or writing a story and see how many of those words you could include. You can even have a competition and see who includes the most number of words. This is also a good way to learn the meanings of new words.
3. Create a family message board.
Write messages for each other and pin it on the board. It could be as simple as a thank you note or a reminder to someone. This also encourages reading others’ writing. But it’s good to talk so remember to keep that balance!
4. Use different mediums to write.
Writing doesn’t always have to be on boring white paper using a plain pen, ask your children to type their story on a computer or a tablet. Try glitter pens and let your littleuns write something with sparkles. The main point is make it different.
5. Share it far and wide.
If you have just written your best story or a blog, you want others to see and share it. Maybe your child has written an amazing story or a non-fiction piece; whatever it is, children are likely to produce great writing if they see their work being appreciated by others. Praise them for it and encourage them to continue writing. Why not get them to take part in Joseph and Benjamin’s short story competition ‘Mini Writers Big Book Competition’. For full details around this 500 words short story competition, visit their website via josephandbenjamin.com
6. Write together.
Children love sharing their books with you; whether it is a bedtime story or a snuggle up on the couch with a book day, children enjoy sharing their books. We need to work on transferring this love and bonding moment to writing, for example, write a letter together to post to a family member, writing out cards for special occasions etc.
7. Be a role model.
Children copy what they see, so let them see you writing. Not only will this inspire them to write but they will learn about writing by watching you. Talk to them about what you are writing.
8. Practice, practice, practice.
Writing isn’t an easy task and children should be allowed to practice so they can get better at it. Give them lots of praise and don’t let them get discouraged. Keep the activities short and fun. Provide opportunities for them to write freely. Give them paper and pen and let their imagination do the rest.
Remember, we are in the quest to develop our children as talented writers. This doesn’t just happen by chance; we need to work on it. Although this post is about encouraging writing, it is important to remember that reading and writing support each other. The more your child reads the better writers they become. They have a better understanding of the world and a broader vocabulary. So, as well as the activities mentioned above, spend time reading with your child. You can find a range of exciting reading activities in ‘13 ways to encourage your child to read’. Complete as many of these as you can and watch your children grow to be avid, successful lifelong readers and writers.
By Sabana Begum