Thursday, November 8, 2012

Encouraging Kids to Write

From Cheryl's Writing Crate 

Long before they go to school, before they even know the alphabet, children begin to write. In fact, for most children, literacy begins at home with a crayon. Young children who are encouraged to draw and scribble stories will learn to write more easily and confidently once they head off to school.

I noticed with each of my eight kids who was interested in books and writing from when they were toddlers. Some of them easily gravitated to books and loved to sit and point at the pictures. Most of them couldn’t wait to get their hands on crayons or markers and create non-verbal masterpieces whether it was on paper or not! Two of my children had no desire to spend extra time drawing and looking at picture books unless I engaged them, which believe me, I did! 

There are dozens of opportunities for children of all ages to get excited about writing, especially if you make it fun for them. Here are a few ideas that have worked with our family:

From infancy on, reading books aloud to your children is the single most important way you can help them get ready to both read and write. Hearing you read aloud gives them their first meaningful experiences with printed words and makes them aware of how stories work.

Young Children
Take advantage of your regular household activities for putting children's writing skills to good use.

Shopping Lists.  Ask a child to write out your list or have your children add their personal items to the list you've already made.

Foster your children's interest in writing by making it fun!
Family members can also leave each other notes at a message center. Each of my kids has their own “communication log” that they leave in their bureaus. My husband and I take turns writing things back and forth with them. This is great for teens who hate to share out loud!
Ask your children to write in their own appointments and dates on a family calendar. Very young children can draw picture reminders.
Have your children make cards. People in retirement homes or sick children in local hospitals will appreciate them. Not only do your kids get practice writing, they will really brighten someone’s day. 
Older Children and Teens: 

Journal writing. A gift of a journal or diary is a way to get young people into the habit of writing daily. A journal begins the writing process and may be the source of ideas for poems or stories. Journals also provide  private outlets for emotions.
Join a school newspaper.  Because writing is my passion, I was thrilled when my children’s middle school asked me to start a school newspaper. The Mariners’ Catch is an authentic 16-page publication printed on real newspaper, and is now in its 5th year. We have an enthusiastic staff of 30 reporters who are learning everything it takes to produce a professional newspaper.
Visit the library and find books about writing. Ask the librarian to help you find books for your child about plot and character development, mystery or humor genres, or perhaps how to write magazine articles.
     A Holiday Newsletter.  Around the winter holidays, some families send all their distant friends and family copies of one long letter recounting events of the past year. Your children can contribute to this kind of holiday greeting.

Keep an area in your home stocked with writing supplies such as stationery, birthday and greeting cards, post cards, envelopes, and stamps. This is a great opportunity for your child to take charge of sending grandma a birthday card specially from her rather than a parent just signing the child’s name to the card.

How to you encourage the young writers in your home?  Please leave us a comment.

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