These days it seems that kids are often composing texts and tweets. The art of letter writing has fallen wayside to emails and, rather than writing in a diary, teens simply update their social media status. However, writing skills are important. If your child wants to succeed in high school and college, it’s likely they will have to write a few good essays. Writing skills are also often important when applying for jobs, and proper grammar is necessary when exchanging business emails. Of course, writing is fun and a great way to encourage creativity. Here are some tips from a mom and credentialed teacher on how to encourage kids to write.
When I was teaching, I would encourage my students to enter the local newspaper’s weekly writing contest for kids. Kids were given a starter sentence and they had to finish the story. Winners were given a prize and had their story printed in the newspaper. Sites like scholastic.com have contests too. Pbskids.org even has one for kids as young as kindergarten. Many of these contests have prizes, so it’s a great incentive to get kids to write.
Having your child write a photo journal is a fun way to explore and write. A few times a week, or every day, go on a hike, the park or somewhere new and take a picture. It might be of a bird, an interesting fountain or a car. Then, print out the photo or copy and paste it into a word processing document and allow your child to write about the picture. Sometimes, I have my daughter pick out a picture from a magazine and she writes a descriptive sentence about the photo.
Sometimes, kids need something to spark their imagination. Giving your child a picture or a story starter sentence can help them get their creative wheels turning. Scholastic has a story starter page with several different categories including fantasy, adventure and sci-fi. I chose fantasy and was asked to put in my name and grade level. Then, the page took me to a slot machine that gave me a writing prompt. If kids don’t like their prompt they can spin a different adjective, subject or action. After that, they can choose a story format, such as a notebook, and the option if they want to draw a picture. Another idea is the Story Starters-Ideas for Writing (by Jarrod Robinson). This app gives you “interesting pictures from around the world” to help stimulate the mind. The app is free and requires iOS 4.3 or later.
With a few interesting pictures, story starters and a pencil (or a tablet), you may find encouraging your child to write isn’t that hard.
More from Melissa:
Teaching Tips: Using Picture Books to Teach Figurative Language
Education Trigger Laws: Pitting Parents Against Teachers or Helping Reform Schools?
How Involved Should Schools Be in the War on Obesity?