Teaching our children to write well is just another way of helping them to better communicate their thoughts and ideas to the greater world. Here are some simple, fun ideas for helping your children put the pencil to paper (or fingers to the keyboard!).
Pre- and early readers
- Ask your children to help you write your grocery list. Help pre-readers to write the first letter of the item needed, and then fill in the rest together. At the store, ask your child to read the list for you.
- Why spend money on expensive greeting cards when you can create your own? Gather colored pencils, markers and some fun cardstock paper. Ask your children to personalize simple messages and address the envelope.
- Gather pictures cut out from magazines or draw your own on heavier stock paper and make a homemade storybook. For smaller tots, make an alphabet book by writing a letter and gluing on a representative picture for each letter of the alphabet. Or create a book of seasonal words with accompanying pictures, such as a Spring Word Book with pictures of an umbrella, a tulip, etc.
- Create a family scrapbook. Archive photos and mementos and ask your children to write the commentary. Visit any craft store for an amazing array of add-ons, borders and punch-out letters (perfect for pre-writers).
Middle and high schoolers
- Give a gift of a beautiful journal every birthday and encourage your child to record the day’s thoughts over the course of a year. Share some readings from published journals (for introspective entries, check out Diary of a Young Girl, by Anne Frank or Zlata’s Diary, by Zlata Filipovic; for fun, check out the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series by Jeff Kinney). Some children may appreciate a journal with a lock to keep snooping little brothers and sisters at bay.
- Visit canteach.ca for a great list of writing prompts, perfect for the child who has a difficult time coming up with journaling topics.
- Apricotpie.com is a Web site where children can share and discuss self-written stories and poems with other children.
- Encourage an e-mail pen pal friendship with a long distance relative or a friend who has moved away to another city. Or check out penpalnet.com to find an overseas pen pal.
- Encourage your child to join the school newspaper or yearbook team.
- It’s so easy to get started with a blog. Add pictures and video to personalize your topic. Establish privacy settings to make sure your child keeps his identity safe. blogspot.com and wordpress.com are good places to start.
- Writer’s Digest offers a thought-provoking daily writing prompt to help budding writers get their juices flowing at writersdigest.com.
- Your children could write their first novel in a month by taking part in NaNoWriMo’s annual writing extravaganza. Receive support and encouragement as you write a 50,000-word novel from scratch in a month’s time. Be sure to “publish” your child’s first novel in hardcover format. Better yet, take part in the event as a family, each writing your own novel, and celebrate with a book release party when you’ve completed this challenging yet exciting adventure. Nanowrimo.org