There are two types of children in this world – those who LOVE to write and those who HATE to write. I’ve found there is very little in between on this topic. When I get a new class of students, I have two goals: 1. To get them to love reading. 2. To get them to love writing. The best card I’ve ever received from a student simply said, “I don’t know how you did it, but thanks for making me love to write.” He still loves writing and still sends me stories to read and enjoy. I don’t always find this much success with writing, but I usually win about 75% of them over. Here are my tips and tricks to help you foster a love of writing at home.
1. Practice what you preach.
Just like with reading, kids enjoy writing together. We don’t always write our stories down, but on road trips, etc. we all go around adding a part to a story. My husband will start with, “One day in the dark lonely woods … ” and we will have the kids add on to his intro. We keep it going until the story is so ridiculous and funny that we’ve forgotten the beginning and one of us says “The End!” It’s a fun way to foster a love of story telling at a young age, which grows into a love of writing the words down. As our kids get older, we will do this more on paper. I’ll write a sentence, then pass the paper on. Our stories are always silly, and we all end up giggling.
2. Find what interests them and turn it into a blog.
One of my students just started his own food blog. He’s writing paragraph after paragraph on food and loving it. He did not enjoy writing in class, because 9 times out of 10 the topics did not interest him, but his parents found his niche. They put in the time to go to different restaurants, take pictures, etc., then he puts this information on the blog with some help. It’s amazing to see how he’s writing now that something is interesting to him. Your child may want to write about sports, games, tv shows, legos, toys, anything. Figure out what they love and run with it.
3. Buy fun writing supplies.
Everybody loves a new colorful journal, with a lock and key. Spend some time in the Target Dollar Spot and grab some fun stationary, pens, pencils, erasers, etc. Then set your child free. Allow them the quiet time and space to fill their notebook with whatever they desire. Some websites, like Shutterfly, will even allow you to publish your child’s writing!
4. Mix up the mediums.
Sometimes, we are gifted Crayola bath soap. This stuff gets smeared all over the bath tub walls, then we let the girls write in it. Cheap and easy cleanup! We just run the shower for a few minutes at the end of bath, and they rub all the soap off. We also practice letters with play dough or with shaving cream. I’ve also seen this done in sand, but the thought of sand in my house gives me hives so that’s a nope for me.
5. Grab a picture.
We often grab a picture (like the one to the left) off the internet and have the kids write a story about it. It can be a camping scene, a carnival, a fairy tale, anything. It gives the kids common characters or settings, but then they can make it their own. Sometimes it becomes a sci-fi story, other times an informational text piece.
6. Letters of gratitude.
Sometimes we go buy fun stationary and write thank you notes to friends and family. Not thanks for the gift, but things like “Thanks for being nice to me on the playground. I’m glad you’re a sweet friend.” Then we get to mail them. Kids LOVE mail, and you help them learn about small acts of kindness.
7. Story telling cards or dice.
Recently, Chick-Fil-A had these dice in their kids’ meals. The dice had a different picture on each side. We loved going through each one and telling a story. As my child got better at it, we started incorporating two sides of the die in our stories. It was so fun. One of our mom bloggers recommends these story cards.
8. Make a recording.
Download an app that will let your child record an audio book of their writing. This is a fun, easy way for them to hear their writing. I’ve also recently learned that Google Translate will let you keep the language as English. You can load a document into Google Translate, and it will read it to you. This is great for helping children hear if their writing makes sense!