Creative writing tips for young children

Parentree-editors 2009-08-18 10:49:29

Does your little one have a love affair with the pen and paper and loves to write or scribble endlessly?  Or does she have a writer’s block and is reluctant to pen away her thoughts?

We have here some tips to help you to unleash their creative juices and write their little minds away - write freely, naturally, effectively and with passion. And most important to enjoy expressing and writing! That takes care of most of it.

When can children start to write?

  • They can start to write as soon as they learn their alphabet and they start the basic phonics - BAT, SAT etc.... Just give them a diary, notebook and let them scribble away. Of course it will sound like some language from Timbuktu but then you will be surprised how it starts making sense. In KG and 1st standard most will be writing sentences. Slowly it will be one big paragraph and then typically by 3rd or 4th grades they will start to sort their writing in paragraphs

Do NOT critique or criticize initially when children start to write

  • Just let them write, enjoy writing and get that flow. More than half the battle is won if they enjoy writing and spend time writing. They will get there. In fact, many schools of thought, say initially just let them write and do not correct spellings or grammar when they are doing their “creative writing”. It might intimidate and restrain their creative flow and urges. You can give them a secret diary where they can pen their thoughts. 
  • Of course in other schoolwork you can correct and teach. Once they have the flow and the love for writing, you can gently have them read out what they have written and ask them how could they have written better. Then perhaps you can point some grammatical and spelling improvements.

Encourage children to write but do not push

  • Encourage, enable and facilitate. Keep pen, paper, notebook, secret diaries handy and make it fun. Stay away from making it a chore.
  • At the same time, do encourage them to write. Yes, another challenging parenting balance to strike. The more they write, the more they learn. Things click in their minds when they read what they write, make mistakes and read what others write. Let it happen naturally.
  • Make writing a regular habit - a few times a week or daily writing a diary or journal. Writing after fun memorable events - play-date, trip to the zoo, family vacations etc. It does not just have to be fun events but also certain events that move them. For example, when they complain about a bad day at school, tell them to write in their diary or notebook. They will get to write and even feel better after writing. They will make the habit of expressing all emotions by writing and find comfort in writing. You might discover new things about them and their day at school as well.
  • You can ask them to write letters to their friends. You or even they can them type them and email. The novelty of email and computers will surely excite them.

What if children are hesitant, cautious and reluctant to write and express?

Your little ones have a writer’s block? Do not know what to write? How to start?

  • The idea is to learn to express. So you could start with asking them to draw things and then write about them. For example, if they want to write about their favourite monster, ask them to draw the monster first and then they can write about it. This will get them going and get the juices flowing.
  • Encourage them not to just write about dramatic stuff, but also the everyday and the mundane. Kids relate well to their everyday lives and routine. For example, many times kids enjoy writing about their day - what they ate, what they did and said etc. First they will just write and record and then they will start to write for effect. This is not just to document but to also make it fun and different.

Some useful resources

  • There are some wonderful workbooks for creative writing for different grades or levels by SAP, Scholastic etc. They help kids structure their thinking process and content. Some examples of the formats used:
  • Many beginner workbooks start by making kids draw the topics and gradually move to words.
  • Some typical books will give a topic for kids to write - “My Favourite Movie”. Then give some trigger words or phrases to get the thinking flow started - What is the movie about? Is it funny or scary? Actors? Why you like? What you do not like? How long? When you saw? Where you saw? With whom? The story?... Describe your other monster friends...Describe your school tiffin period, birthday party etc. (with trigger words to guide)
  • The workbooks might also have paragraphs with some blanks that the kids have some freedom to fill and form the story. Sort of semi-structured creative writing.
  • They will give the kids imaginary scenarios and questions: What if you had a friend from out of town? What would you do with her and where would you take her? Imagine that you were a monster? Give yourself a name, what is scary about you, Are you a good monster or a bad monster?
  • Many times they will have show a picture and ask the kids to give captions or write about the picture or write a story about a series of pictures.
  • You can supplement these creative writing workbooks with the daily diaries most kids enjoy. Also, you can get ideas from these workbooks and give them topics that they will enjoy writing about.

Timing is important

  • Give them topics that they feel strongly about. Find out what makes them really tick not what should make them tick.
  • If your child is excited about something, seize the moment and have them write about it.

Encourage reading

  • Of course, encourage them to read. Keep fun books handy. Reading good books will expose them to different writing styles and enrich their vocabulary and expression.
  • Also, even when they get older, continue reading to them a little. It is bonding and they imbibe proper diction, tone and expression. Also, reading out loud to them can be an opportunity to model effective writing to them.  You can subtly model writing tools like figures of speech, paragraphs etc.
  • Encourage them to use the new words and figures of speech that they learn when they write.

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