Learning to write is one of the most important skills kids can learn. Writing is an activity that children can do just about anywhere, and developing skills in creative writing comes from utilising experiences in the classroom, at home and beyond. Creative writing not only allows kids to express their feelings, it helps them clarify their own ideas and beliefs, and discover what they know or think about a topic. Helping your kids discover a love for it can help them exercise their creativity well beyond their childhood and develop a lifelong passion for it. You can prepare your child for creative writing through play, conversation, reading and exploration. Here are a few ideas to get them going!
Reading and writing go hand-in-hand. Good books introduce and expose various subjects and writing styles. If your child is old enough, encourage him/her to read every day or read aloud to your children every day. Inspire them to write by taking them to book readings and author meets. You can also encourage them to read author interviews for an insight into how an idea takes shape.
Encourage Free thinking and imagination
Encourage your child to think outside the box through imaginative play, role play, dress up, and pretend situations. These involve opportunities to solve problems, make choices and experiment. Ask your child open-ended questions that engage their imagination and let them open up with their thoughts. What would they do if they were in a particular situation? What they think of a particular character?
Offer writing prompts to encourage them. Use their favourite books as templates. Help your child think up ideas for her own version and create whole new adventure. Ask them to retell the endings to their favourite stories. Or, try challenging your child to tell a tale from a different point of view. Or inspire them to write about their own experiences – vacations, trips, parties. You can make a scrapbook and encourage children to write about their craft works or even write a journal. They could carry a notebook and write down ideas and interesting things they see throughout the day. You could also encourage letter writing to family and friends.
Brainstorm ideas for stories
Helping your child generate ideas will exercise their creativity before they even pick up a pencil. Have your child gather old photos or pictures from magazines and encourage them to make up a story based on the images, or have them make up stories for photographs they have taken of things that catch their eye. Challenge them to create a story for a wordless picture book. Prompt your child’s interpretation of the images they see with questions.
Set aside a special time and place to write every day
Enjoy a daily reading time, and in a similar way weave in some writing time into your routine. Let your child find a special “writing place” where they feel inspired to write or think: it can be in bed, at the kitchen table, a favorite chair, or even outside. Provide your children with the required writing materials – notebooks, pencils etc.
Encourage vocabulary building
Help children learn a new word every day and use it too. Provide easy access to an age-appropriate dictionary and thesaurus.
Focus on creativity, not grammar or spellings
Help your children learn how to experiment, take risks, and think outside the box. Don’t discourage your child’s creativity by pointing out her spelling, grammar, or punctuation. Feel free to gently correct these mechanical errors, but do not make your child feel like she has failed a homework assignment. Instead, praise her creativity and talk to her about her ideas. Compliment your child when she has done something well, such as come up with an interesting character, write a funny plot, or use a difficult word correctly in a sentence.
Display / Show off your children’s work
Keep your child motivated to write by putting their stories up on the fridge or placing them on a bulletin board. Make a “book” out of their stories. Encourage them to read them out to friends.
Play creative writing games
Incorporate creative writing into imaginative play. Figure out a writing activity that fits into your child’s interests and enthusiasms to spark his creative writing talents. Play games like Story Cubes, Dixit, Tell Tale or Jabber Jots that help ignite their storytelling skills.
Be part of a writing club
Kids’ creativity play off each other when they brainstorm and write together. It is a great way to get them to communicate too! If your children cannot write yet, you can write it or type it out for them too!
Participate in writing contests
One of the best ways to get children to write is to encourage them to participate in writing contests. Introducing them to a little writing every day can expand their interest and skill in the area much more than doing so only sporadically. Go on! Help your kids’ imagination run wild!!