By Carey Ann Dodah, Director of Curriculum Strategy at Explore Learning
For some, writing can be a challenge but it is something that we all have to do. We start from a very young age in school and it grows with us all the way into our adult lives. As necessary as it is, not every child loves to write, but with the endless possibilities that can come from the passion of reading and writing, there are many ways to inspire your kids to love it. Imagination is something that ALL children have – you just need to help them find it.
Here are my tips:
It is very important for children to start writing from a young age, and I don’t mean just writing stories but writing anything at all! It doesn’t matter if they don’t finish what they’re writing, as long as they’re practicing their own stories as much as they possibly can and creating something unique.
Give them confidence
Sometimes children are afraid of giving writing a try; worried about what their peers will say or that they will get things wrong. Encourage them to have a go and not be afraid of making mistakes. Stagger their stories so that they at first write a 250 word story, then a 500 word, then a 1000 word story. Make sure that you celebrate them each time or encourage them to read it out in front of you or other members of the family so they really know what they’ve done is something to be proud of.
Encourage their love of reading
Reading books to a child is a great way of sparking their imagination, even to an older child. Once children have learned to read, you’re sometimes tempted to let them get on with it, but if you read a book with a child or put on a tape, you’re enjoying the book with them. You’re sending a message that books are important, reading is important, and therefore writing is important. Encouraging them to enjoy stories is the starting point to sparking their imagination.
Don’t get too bogged down in grammar
Of course grammar is essential later in life, but I can’t emphasise enough that grammar can’t and shouldn’t prevent creativity. It shouldn’t stop a child’s imagination running free and putting down in writing something special. Time and time again I have come across a child who is self conscious about their poor grammar and spelling.
Write about Real Life
What they write doesn’t need to be fictional; if it helps them to put pen to paper, ask them to write about something exciting that happened lately or people they know. Encourage them to use vivid, emotive language. Once they’ve done this they can move onto making up their own stories where they can let their imagination take control!
The Importance of Handwriting
Legible handwriting is still valued despite the digital age that we live in. Its role has diminished – and will continue to do so as exams become digitised – but it’s also important to ensure that children learn to write well and can express themselves with a pen and paper. Letter communication is so powerful; a word processor written letter just isn’t the same as receiving a hand written letter from someone you care for. It’s just as important to treasure our traditional language and style as it is to find new and innovative ways of getting our message across. At Explore Learning some students are participating in pen pal schemes where students write to each other at different centres to really capture that excitement of writing; not only do children look forward to receiving a hand-written letter but they’re inspired to hand write letters for others.
Encourage children to enter competitions. There are a number of great national and local writing competitions for children to enter where they can get feedback on their work. For example, the National Young Writers’ Awards is one free competition that returns 6th March and is open to children all over the UK aged 14 and under.
About Carey Ann Dodah
Carey Ann Dodah is the Director of Curriculum Strategy at Explore Learning, one of the UK’s leading providers of extra tuition in maths and English. Having worked for Explore Learning since its inception in 2001, Carey Ann has a wealth of experience in child development and primary education.