As we start our writing journey, I thought it would be good to cover the basics.
So, what do you need to be a writer?
I’ve sometimes heard parents tell me that their child, who just loves to write, doesn’t want to write.
That sounds confusing – imagine a child who loves ice-cream but doesn’t want to eat ice-cream. Huh? Unless they’re being offered sweet potato and lime ice-cream, I can’t imagine my children turning it down.
Children still love to write, but maybe they are not getting the chocolate chip ice cream. If your child loves to write, and you want to foster a love of writing, make sure your children have everything they need. This is a good place to start:
Does your child have time to write? I’m not talking about five minutes before running to school and after swallowing a rushed breakfast, but instead, a good amount of time where children can take the time they need to develop their ideas.
Children are never short of ideas – more on this later. If you want your children to write, make sure you make time for it, as you would make time for any other activity you think is important for them.
I advise you to start with a small manageable chunk of time; they can write for longer if they still have the energy and wish to do it, instead of setting an hour of writing, only to feel frustrated within fifteen minutes.
Do your children have the right “ingredients” at hand? Do they have the basic tools they need to write? Most children will have a notebook lying around that never gets filled up. I recently found some of my old notebooks when we moved to our new place in January, and my children thought these were the most exciting collections of empty pages they had ever seen.
If you can’t afford a shiny new notebook, buy a plain one and let your child decorate it with stickers or their own doodles. Make writing easy and fun from the start. Blunt pencils will frustrate both of you (and sharpeners are incredibly elusive in our house).
Even though this may seem obvious, make sure that writing tools are always at hand, and have a special place in the house.
Think of space also as a writing tool – children will do better in a clutter-free place where they can sit down and write without the fear of getting juice all over their notebooks (or of losing their stories among the many items on the table). Minimise distractions to make the most of the time they have.
Is your child allowed to write for fun? As children grow older, the pressure of preparing for exams or secondary school may lead some parents to think that writing that is not goal-driven is not useful.
Exercises where children can be creative and explore topics that are relevant to them are crucial to developing a love of writing. Unless it is school-mandated homework, let them choose a topic that is interesting for them. You will find out a lot about how your children feel and what is important to them when you read their free writing.
If you’re not comfortable with the topic they choose to write about, think about the reasons behind this, and ask them why they want to write about this. We want to aim for writing that can be fun or serious, but always meaningful and respectful.
Do your children have time, tools and freedom to write? They’re ready to start!
Have a look at the prompts this week, and if you need more information about how the blog works, head to my Welcome post. See you next Wednesday!