Writing is an important part of your child’s life. So how do you make sure you child wants to do it?
Writing forms the basis of pretty much all of your child’s education. Whether they’re writing stories, essays, or about the history of the Vikings, writing is an invaluable skill.
Yet, writing is also something that children complain about doing. A lot.
I can’t even begin to consider how many children I have heard tell me they don’t enjoy writing over the years. I’ve heard everything from ‘it’s boring!’, ‘I don’t like writing about what the adults tell me to write about’, to ‘I’d rather be playing football’. I’ve heard children complaining about physical pain (‘it hurts my wrist when I write’), and showing signs of diminished self confidence (‘I’m not good at writing /as good as person X at writing’).
And this makes me very, very sad. It doesn’t have to be this way at all.
Writing can be so very joyful and exciting for children. It can be a way for them to communicate with others, develop their imagination, and to share their interests with others. It CAN be fun!
So I hear you asking, how do I encourage my child to want to write?!
How do I encourage my child to want to write?
*Provide them with fun and interesting writing tools. Think about it, a normal pen or pencil is just a little bit regular and boring. Sure, it serves a purpose sometimes, but if you want your child to really crave using that pen, then they need to be intrigued by the resources! I personally love gel pens, especially the ones with different smells, as well as a cool note book or secret diary. Don’t limit your ideas to the standard paper and pens though, and think about trying a range of resources, such as a whiteboard, chalk, or a writing pad.
*Let them choose the subject. There’s nothing more passion killing for your child than being forced into writing about something they couldn’t care less about. Instead, try to find what motivates your child! For example, if they have a fascination with dinosaurs then why not suggest they write a dinosaur themed story? Or some prehistoric facts? You will see your child scribbling away in no time! When you think about the skill you want your child to learn, instead of the subject, you can focus on ways to to encourage them without focussing on the end result.
*Make writing relevant. This point goes hand in hand with the previous point. If writing isn’t relevant to you child’s life, why are they going to want to do it? Try to provide authentic opportunities to write, such as sending a message to their favourite YouTuber, writing a birthday list / invitations, or a diary. Children are born curious about the print and symbols around them, and in my opinion it is us adults that suck the fun and joy out of exploring these.
*Read. Reading is fantastic for enhancing children’s writing! Books help children to build their vocabulary with new and interesting words, which helps them when they come to write themselves; their confidence is increased, they have a better understanding of sentence structure, and they have an improved bank of ideas to draw from. Try to include a mixture of reading to your child, as well as them looking at books independently. (For more information on how to promote a love of reading in children, see my other article for more ideas).
*Model writing. Children love to imitate the adults around them, so make sure they have a good role model in you! Find reasons to write in front of your child, and show them how enjoyable and purposeful it can be.
*Don’t force them to write. I’ve already suggested how you can let children choose the subject, but I think it’s equally important not to force them to write – this is especially important if your child isn’t confident or is inexperienced. Think about how you might feel when something is repeatedly forced on you, and I can guarantee you it loses your interest pretty quickly. Instead, try not to worry about their writing habits too much for a while, and simply provide well considered opportunities for them to practice in a joyous way – without the pressure. Bonus tip: I always find it helps to have writing materials everywhere, so children can access resources easily if they choose to, such as a note pad by the phone, a chalk board in the kitchen, or a whiteboard on the wall.
*Don’t underestimate the power of mark making. All the greatest writers most likely started off as scribblers, doodlers and drawers. Mark making is beneficial for children in so many ways, and helps build the stamina needed to write. Encourage their creative pen-to-paper ideas, and super writing will be sure to follow.
*Build up their strength. Writing can be quite physically demanding, especially for very young writers – and this is especially true for boys. Try to build lots of non-writing based physical opportunities into your child’s routine, to support their developing stamina. This could include large movement activities such as climbing trees, playing at the park, or sweeping leaves in the garden, which all help build good upper arm strength for your child; play dough, large building blocks, using tongs to pick up small objects, and any other squeezing or grabbing activities are good for developing hand strength and good grip; and fiddly activities such as small Lego, nuts and bolts, and Hama beads are great for developing finger strength. When children are physically strong enough to be capable of writing comfortably, they will certainly enjoy it more!
*Appreciate alternative means of writing. I think tradition sometimes dictates that writing is purely a pen and paper art form, and to some degree I agree that there is a certain joy and wonder which only comes from putting pen to paper. However, there is now a wealth of technology out there which children have access to, and to me it makes sense that us adults learn to appreciate the many opportunities these bring! I’m not necessarily talking about typing on a computer either, even though this is a good opportunity to practice writing skills. What I mean is those informal opportunities which won’t even feel like writing, yet without even realising it your child will be practicing spelling, punctuation, sentence formation and more. For example, by letting your child take charge of things such as writing in the TV search bar, typing on Google, or sending a text, you will allow them to build up their writing confidence, with the added bonus of the delete button nearby and zero pressure.
I hope you all have confident and willing writers very soon! If these tips helped, or if you have your own tips for budding writers let us know in the comments section at the bottom of the page.
Love, Heather x