April 10th is Encourage a Young Writer Day. Writing can be a fun and creative way for people of all ages to express themselves and their thoughts about the world. Written communication is a vital component of almost every career path. It can boost creativity, build literacy skills, and help the writer to work through their emotions. Here are 10 ways to support the young writer in your life:
- Provide a supportive environment: Encourage and support young writers by creating an environment that promotes creativity and allows them to express themselves without fear of judgment. Some ways to do this are having your child choose a journal or notebook that matches their personality, creating a writing nook that includes pictures and objects that spark creative thinking, and being positive and open when enjoying your child’s writing.
- Read together: At Kids Co., we encourage kids (and staff) to read at least 30 minutes each day to build literacy skills, such as vocabulary, spelling, and grammar. Reading together can also help children develop an interest in writing. Try to offer lots of different options, such as picture and chapter books, graphic novels and comics, poetry, short stories, and articles. Take time to discuss what you have read together and ask for their opinions and thoughts about both the subject matter and the writing style.
- Set aside time to write: Sometimes we get busy and forget to make time for hobbies. Build time into your daily and/or weekly schedule for your child to dedicate to writing. This could be five minutes of journaling before bed each night, 20 minutes of writing time on the weekends, or whatever works for your family’s schedule. Pick a time when your child will be able to concentrate on their writing without too many distractions.
- Provide inspiration: It can be difficult to start writing without a direction. Come up with fun writing prompts or encourage your child to journal about their daily experiences. Go on fun outings and have them write about it. Give them an unusual object and have them write a made-up use and history for it. Find stock images of people and have your child write a story about them. The possibilities are endless!
- Start with the illustrations: Written communication is a skill that improves with practice. Sometimes it can help to start with a visual representation of the story. Try asking your young writer to express the story in pictures first and then add the writing. Illustrations can be your child’s own drawings, photographs they take, or images they find online. Use graphic novels, comics, photojournalism, and blogs as inspiration for image-driven stories.
- Encourage experimentation: There are as many writing styles as there are writers. Encourage your child to experiment with different styles and formats. Challenge them to think about experiences from different perspectives. Have them write in different styles, like stream of consciousness, poetry, and dialogue-driven writing. Experimental writing can help them find their voice and develop their own unique writing style.
- Find the writing method that works best: Some people find they are more creative when they write with a special pen. Others find it easier to record themselves or use speech-to-text. Still others like to use a tablet, computer, or even a typewriter. Help your child find the method and tools that work best for them. This will help make the writing experience enjoyable.
- Set achievable goals: Working towards and completing goals can give your young writer motivation and a sense of accomplishment. Help your child set achievable goals for their writing, such as completing a certain number of pages or chapters. Think of incentives that will help motivate your child to accomplish their goals. Make it fun and flexible, so it doesn’t cause frustration.
- Offer feedback: A piece of writing is rarely perfect in the first draft. Editing and revision is part of the writing process. Offer constructive feedback on your child’s writing, but be careful not to criticize or discourage them. Instead, talk to them about what they wrote. Ask questions and encourage them to expand on the concepts in their writing. Help them to reorganize their thoughts, if needed. If your child has a hard time taking criticism, talk about the role of editors in professional writing or have them practice giving feedback on others’ writing, including your own.
- Celebrate their work: Celebrate your child’s writing by talking about it, displaying it in a prominent place, and/or sharing it with others. Talk about what you liked about their work and praise them for meeting their writing goals. You can even “publish” their work by posting it on a blog, sending it to a company to turn it into a book, or adding a cover and backing and binding it yourself with staples, string, or other materials. This can help boost their confidence and encourage them to continue writing. If their writing is really good, consider submitting it to a contest or actually getting it published.
Not only is writing an important skill, writers also enrich our lives through the stories they tell and the valuable information they provide. We hope these tips will help you encourage the young writers in your life.