When my son was a year old he saw his sisters holding pencils and writing, and he wanted to do it too. As he got a little older, he began to find writing frustrating. It was a lot for him to figure out how to write his letters properly, spell correctly, and use proper punctuation all while trying to get his thoughts and ideas down on paper. By the time he was in third grade, I noticed he was losing his confidence and becoming more reluctant to write.
It was during this time that I decided that I wanted my children to first cultivate a love for writing then learn the mechanics. So here’s what I did…
I transcribed for them.
When my children were younger, I would transcribe their stories and ideas so that they could see that writing is just another form of communication. I would also have them narrate (retell or tell back) to me what they learned after every reading and would transcribe their narration so they would understand the concept of written narration as they got older.
Allowed them to copy passages of their choice from books they’re reading.
Each day of the week they’d copy their favorite scripture, poem, quote, or literature passage. When I selected the passages, they didn’t find copywork as enjoyable, so I’d allow them to select their own passages as long as they are thoughtful about their selections. It was interesting to see the different passages, scriptures, and quotes they chose each week.
I gave them the freedom to write about topics that interest them.
When my kids were younger, I had them do daily journal writings. Sometimes I’d give them prompts but mostly I just let them write about whatever was on their mind. One day, they kept talking about the Naruto anime, so I asked them to write a paper about their favorite character explaining why they liked them. I was really surprised by the thoughtfulness of their responses and gained a deeper understanding of why they connected with the Naruto anime and manga so much.
I encourage them to make up characters and write stories.
My children loved playing dress-up when they were little and this sometimes inspired the creation of characters. I would then encourage them to create short stories about these characters. One of my favorites is a character created by my daughter Shaia. His name is El Machio, a vigilante outlaw she describes as the Hispanic Batman. My son Solomon created Hobo Samurai, a kid without a home that travels around fighting injustice everywhere he goes.
I’m gracious and patient when correcting them.
Run-on sentences and misspelling were major problems that used to frustrate me when the girls were younger. With my son, I try to be more gracious and patient when pointing out spelling and grammatical errors. There are times that I don’t point out errors at all. I’ve stopped stressing about the mechanics of writing and am more concerned with encouraging my children and helping them flesh out their ideas. My high schoolers are great writers and Solomon’s writing continues to improve every day.
Introduce them to blogging.
A few years back, I found a website called Kidblog where we created a classroom blog and each kid was able to create their own blog posts. Initially, they were reluctant to blog, but very quickly got into it after their first posts. They would write about whatever was on their mind like an online journal or I’d have them do written narration as a blog post. We’d share their blog posts with family and friends.
I’m constantly trying to find creative ways to encourage and inspire my children to write daily. They have written stories, poetry, songs, video game storylines, research papers, book reports, letters to their younger and older selves, movie and book reviews.
I’ve found that giving them many opportunities to write about the many things that pique their interest, and by being patient and gracious in correction, they’re more willing to write and their writing is more insightful and enjoyable for me as the reader.
Let us know in the comments what you do to encourage your young writers.
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