How do I inspire my child to write?
The easy answer is: We really don’t have to inspire the kids to write! As with anything that they would like to explore and learn, especially in the beginning years of their life, kids are naturally drawn to the craft of writing. (If you don’t believe me, try giving a piece of crayon to a toddler, or a pencil and stack of papers to a kindergartner.) They’ll write something, anything-scribbling is writing too, and depending on their age and knowledge level, they can even write amusing stories, with an array of interesting characters and poetries that rhyme and repeat. The words may not always make sense to you and me with all the invented spellings, but everything makes perfect sense to them.
However, something happens at some point to these petite prolific writers (not all), and they start to look at writing with so much fear and dread. Some of these once-talented writers almost stop writing, except to write a few uninspired set of sentences to conform to the curriculum and to evade criticism from a peer, parent or a teacher.
Now, how can you reverse this situation if your child is at this crucial point where he refuses to write some meaningful, something note-worthy even if you entice him with the most amazing incentives possible?
Let’s take a look at some of these options, and get your child(ren) set up with an inspiring writing environment, and hope that this process will automatically unleash the true writer within your child. Something tells me it will!
Writer’s Nook – Designate a nook or a corner in your house as a special place for your child to sit and write. This seemingly simple idea does great wonders to your child’s sense of self as they begin to take pride & ownership to their portion of creative real-estate inside the house.
Steady Stock of Supplies – Basic supplies include a writer’s notebook and writing instruments such as pencil or pen. Additional supplies include markers, highlighters, post-it notes, color pencils/pens, crayons, note cards, thank-you cards, mini-legal pads, paper strips, colored papers, sharpeners, erasers, rulers, glue stick, stickers, etc. If your child is ready to draft on the computer or an iPad directly, then have a go, however research says that most elementary and middle school students greatly benefit from adhering to the traditional writing process as their penmanship & craftsmanship is still evolving.
Shoebox or Photobox – Ideally decorated by you, your child or both. This is where your writer can store ideas for future writing projects. Furthermore, you can add a few timely topics in the form of ideas written on paper strips, magazine cutouts, or even include a small toy or object that would provide inspiration.
Mentor Texts – These are special books with samples of modeling texts that your child can use for their writing. Mentor texts can be any book from the child’s own collection (where you mark off a special paragraph or page to model) or books that are specially designated for this purpose. This book, Mentor Texts: Teaching Writing through Children’s Literature by Lynne Dorfman & Rose Capelli is a valuable resource.
Board games & Story Cubes – Games with a special emphasis on words, spelling, vocabulary and ideas such as Scrabble, Boggle, Bananagrams, Apples to Apples, Upwords, Story Cubes etc. There are quite a few out there that can be both entertaining & educational for the whole family!
Dictionary/Thesaurus – Although it is easier these days to find the meaning and synonym with an online dictionary and thesaurus, having a print copy of these crown jewels of writing, is a step towards better learning. If you can afford it, have a dedicated dictionary for each child, and ask him/her to highlight every new word that is learned. When your child reviews these words periodically, it becomes a part of her growing vocabulary, and you can see that she would start using it in her speech & writing.
Publishing Corner– Many parents proudly showcase their child’s simplest scribbles to the most amazing artworks on the refrigerator or a sidewall. Similarly, parents should begin to showcase their child’s written work in a dedicated spot. Every writer has the desire to get published and noticed for his work. By doing this thoughtful showcasing, you are going a step further to make your child’s dream come true, and nurture the writer in your child.
If getting all this set up inspires you to write, then don’t lose a moment, jump right in and join the fun. Happy Writing!