How to encourage your kids to write creatively – and enjoy it!
By Ella Burns
2 min read
We all want to encourage our kids to write creatively and be confident with words. Here are some tips to get even the most reluctant writers inspired to pick up a pen.
1. Get reading
Before children can write stories, they need to hear them – not only to soak up language and structure, but also to fire up their imaginations and associate writing with a pleasurable outcome. Even if your child can read independently, continue reading aloud to them as long as you can. They can listen to more complex stories than they would read themselves, and, more importantly, everyone loves being read to. If the bedtime story is wearing thin with you, try choosing a favourite book you loved as a child that you will look forward to reading, or try audiobooks.
2. Get talking
Children have incredible imaginations, and talking through their quirky ideas and forming their thoughts into words is a crucial part of the writing process. Before asking them to write, get them chatting. This is best done when the pressure is off, like when you are out walking, in the car or colouring. Ask lots of open-ended questions like ‘What would you do if…?’
3. Let your children see you writing
It sounds obvious, but how often do your kids see you writing with a pen? It’s important for them to realise writing is a skill that adults use in everyday life, especially if they are reluctant writers. You can have fun with this too – try having 15 minutes where you ban talking and have to write to each other instead, or write a short note or riddle for them to wake up to in the morning.
4. Get good materials
Interesting stationery like post-it notes, special pens and coloured paper makes writing a lot more appealing. You could try having some postcards, stamps and envelopes available too to write to friends, if writing to Banjo Robinson has got them inspired. Or try a secret journal with a lock for them to scribble down secrets.
5. Hold off on correcting
If and when your child does get inspired to write, they may ask you how to spell lots of words as they go along, or have a go themselves incorrectly. Either way, when they are in the creative flow, hold back on correcting their spelling or grammar. Let them write freely, without editing, and explain that that’s how writers write their first draft. Avoid interrupting them if you can or forcing them to move on to another task.
6. Give specific feedback and praise
If your child shares their writing with you, we all know it’s tempting to give it a quick once over and exclaim ‘Brilliant, darling!’. Even if you do think it’s amazing, try and pick out a specific word or phrase you liked and reading it back to them. It might feel a bit odd at first, but your child will really notice and appreciate it, and it will help build their confidence as a writer.
There you have it – 6 tips on how to encourage your kids to write creatively – and enjoy it! Ella Burns is a trained arts educator who founded children’s creative writing organisation Little Green Pig. Find her on Twitter @ellafburns.