How to improve your child's writing
"This morning" cries Miss Creedle,
"We're all going to use our imaginations,
We're going to close our eyes 3W and imagine.
Are we ready to imagine Darren?"
Miss Creedle Teaches Creative Writing- Gareth Owen
A familiar lament of students across the globe: "But I don't know what to write". Writing is one of the trickiest and challenging things to develop. How do we go about nurturing children as writers, capable of adapting their writing for the correct situation and coming across as competent and confident individuals? Although difficult, there are a number of little things we can do to help our children write and, more importantly, write well.
Technology is often under-used when it comes to inspiring children to write. Animations and short-films can spark off ideas in their heads in a way that reading a book might not be able to. Youtube and other websites also contain an enormous of interviews and performances from authors, offering incredible writing tricks and tips. Hearing the process of how published writers go about their business can often inspire children to try their own work.
Reading a wide variety of books will help children develop as writers. By exposing themselves to new words, ideas and plots, they can "magpie" these from authors, incorporating them into their own writing. Sometimes, it can be a challenge to get some children to read. Encourage them to try a little every day, but don't force it. Don't be precious with what you encourage them to read, either. Even if it's the back of a cereal packet for a while, as long as they're reading something, that's good!
Understanding the basic structure of sentences and how they can be manipulated and changed to create different effects, is crucial to improving children as writers. Encourage them to play around with sentences, switching the order around and being ambitious with the ideas they get down on paper. If they are comfortable with the fundamental basics of language, only then will they be able to build on this and improve their writing.
Allow plenty of opportunities to write "freestyle", where spelling, punctuation, grammar and structure are secondary to the importance of the writing itself. This type of writing is essential, allowing children the freedom to express themselves and hone their creative ideas for future writing.
Giving children feedback on their writing isn't always necessary. However, when it is relevant and at the right time, it can be very useful. Make feedback short, precise and balanced between positive and negative. Clearly state what they can do in their writing and then pick out one thing you'd love to see more in their next piece. This analysis of their writing is something children will be familiar with from school, so it's important to make sure you don't constantly undertake a similar process at home, too.
Writing everyday, no matter how little, can work wonders in improving children as writers. By getting into a routine and sitting down to write, they can be conditioned to focus on writing and learn to develop it. A daily writing journal, where they can write about absolutely anything on their mind, is a productive process. Again, free-writing is way forward here- don't pick out mistakes.
Consider setting up a blog for your child, where they can share their musings with the world. Children seem to love the ability to design and run their own webpage and enjoy the interactive element of viewing other blogs. Please though, always bear in mind internet safety and carefully monitor how your child is getting on.
Talk is crucial for writing. By talking, children explore and share their ideas, developing concepts and externalising their thinking process. This allows them to consolidate what they know already and then collaborate other ideas with their peers. By sharing their thoughts on how they will approach a piece of writing with others, they then internalize these ideas, enabling them to have clearer and more coherent ideas for their writing.
Show don't tell
This is one of the most important mantras when it comes to creative writing. This is about showing the reader what is happening in a story and not telling them. For example, instead of writing the "the man was angry", this could become, "the man clenched his fists and hissed beneath his breath". Good writers allow the reader to see the story for themselves.