By Carey Ann Dodah, Head of Curriculum at Explore Learning
Here are my top tips on how to inspire your child to love writing:
It is very important for children to start writing from a young age, and I don’t mean just writing stories but writing anything at all! It doesn’t matter if they don’t finish writing the stories, as long as they’re practicing their own stories as much as they possibly can and creating something unique.
Give them confidence
Confidence is a big issue amongst children – so much so that our research has found that the main reason parents bring their children along to Explore Learning is not only to improve their English or maths – but to increase their confidence. This shows that often children are afraid of giving writing a try; worried about what their peers will say or that they will get things wrong. Encourage them to have a go and not be afraid of making mistakes. Stagger their stories so that they at first write a 250 word story, then a 500 word, then a 1000 word story. Make sure that you celebrate them each time or encourage them to read it out in front of you or other members of the family so they really know what they’ve done is something to be proud of.
Make up stories about people they know
Some children may struggle to come up with characters’ names and personalities so to resolve this encourage them to write about their favourite characters from TV or film – or perhaps one of their friends or family.
Encourage their love of reading
Reading books to a child is a great way of sparking their imagination, even to an older child. Once the kids have learned to read, you’re sometimes tempted to let them get on with it, but if you read a book with a child or put on a tape, you’re enjoying the book with them. You’re sending a message that books are important, reading is important, and therefore writing is important. Encouraging them to enjoy stories is the starting point to sparking their imagination.
Don’t get too bogged down in grammar
Of course grammar is essential later in life, but I can’t emphasise enough that grammar can’t and shouldn’t prevent creativity. It shouldn’t stop a child’s imagination running free and putting down in writing something special. Time and time again I have come across a child who is self-conscious about their poor grammar and spelling. Sadly it can create an insecurity that acts as a barrier to potentially great work. Quite simply, if a child starts their creative writing by thinking they have to be perfect, they won’t express themselves in the way they want to. Dare I say it, it doesn’t matter if you can’t spell some things; what’s important is that you’ve got some brilliant ideas that aren’t ‘dumbed down’ by an inability to express yourself perfectly grammatically.
Write about Real Life
What they write doesn’t need to be fictional; if it helps them to put pen to paper, ask them to write about something exciting that happened lately. Encourage them to use vivid, emotive language. Once they’ve done this they can move onto making up their own stories where they can let their imagination take control!
The Importance of Handwriting
Legible handwriting is still valued despite the increasingly digital age that we live in. Its role has diminished – and will continue to do so as exams become digitised – but it’s also important to ensure that children learn to write well and can express themselves with a pen and paper. Letter communication is so powerful; a word processed letter just isn’t the same as receiving a hand-written letter from someone you care for. It’s just as important to treasure our traditional language and style as it is to find new and innovative ways of getting our message across. At Explore Learning some students are participating in pen pal schemes where they write to each other at different centres to really capture that excitement of writing; not only do children look forward to receiving a hand-written letter but they’re inspired to hand write letters for others.
Writing is something that we all have to do. We start from a very young age in school and it grows with us all the way into our adult lives. As necessary as it is, not every child loves to read or write, but with the endless possibilities that can come from the passion of reading and writing, there are many ways to inspire your kids to love it. Imagination is something that ALL children have – you just need to help them find it.
To find your nearest centre visit www.explorelearning.co.uk