As we discussed in our previous post, it’s essential to build up your child’s writing muscle. By encouraging your kids to read and write, you’re expanding their imagination, opening up their creativity, fostering their self-expression, building their self-confidence, and teaching them important communication and persuasion skills.
Like any other exercise, the more often your children are encouraged and supported to write, the stronger writers they will become.
There are many different methods that parents, teachers and other care givers can use to help build your child’s writing muscle. Consider a few different suggestions below.
Journaling can be everything from recording daily activities to writing poetry and stories, to science journals. Kids can keep dream journals, a more traditional “Dear Diary” journal, or even an art journal.
The first step is to find the right type of journal for your child. Their interests will drive the type of journal that they’d like to keep. The second step is to ensure that your kids know that it’s a safe space to express themselves. They have to know that their privacy is respected, which means no one in the household, not even the parents, should be reading anyone else’s journal.
The third step, and another key is not to make it into another homework-like task. Kids should see journaling as something fun to do. If they have the right type of journal and feel safe doing so, journaling can be an activity that helps them to build their writing muscle.
Create Writers Toolboxes
For younger children, you may want to create a writer’s toolbox. A writer’s toolbox is a place where kids can keep materials that will help to jumpstart their imagination. In addition to pens and pencils, it can house crayons or markers, string, ribbon, bright construction paper, scissors, and glue. It can include anything that you think may spark creativity, like stickers, sequins, glitter (if you’re daring and don’t mind the mess).
The purpose of the toolbox is to have your child create something, a drawing or painting, a sculpture or anything they wish, and then to use that to help them write a story. You as a parent can help to transfer their thoughts and ideas on paper and then can go back and continue the story together. For kids that may be more hesitant to write on their own, this is a good way to transition into writing as a practice.
Kids tell themselves stories all the time. So how do you harness that creativity on to the page?
Writing prompts are a wonderful way to help your kids start a story. Prompts don’t have to be verbal or written. Spend an afternoon cutting pictures out of magazines and make a book of your own writing prompts for your kids. Visual prompts can work well for both young (and old) writers.
If you’re still looking for inspiration, you can find hundreds of writing prompts online. Pinterest images can be a great source for prompts or even a walk around the yard or neighborhood.
Reading is one of the best natural sources and motivators to encourage writing. For kids that enjoy reading, using a scene or a character from their favorite book can help to encourage them to create a story.
The most important factor in helping your child build their writing muscle is your encouragement. The more supportive you are of your child’s writing efforts, the more likely they’ll want to continue to engage in the activity.