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How Do You Get Kids Interested in Writing?

By Debra Bell | April 19, 2013 | Elementary, Writers in Residence

It’s Dr. Deb Friday, and this week’s discussion question is about writing. Some children naturally love to put their thoughts down on paper and they start composing stories early. But many find the creative process daunting and the expectation that they must write things down frustrating. What do you do in the latter case? And is this practice even important?

First, it is important. The process of composing our thoughts and crafting them into written language is a powerful brain-building technique. Many kids find writing difficult because there are so many choices to make: What is a good idea to write about? What words should I use? What order should I put my thoughts in? We can help them embrace this process by assuring them that making all these decisions is great exercise for our brains. The more they practice generating and ordering their ideas, the faster they will become at this decision-making process. More importantly, the practice of writing regularly is the key habit that produces good writers. And the future belongs to the eloquent. No matter what path they head down up ahead, they are going to have to use written language to open doors of opportunity and to complete their daily tasks on the job and at home. Look at how often you or your spouse must write today! E-mails, Facebook posts, texts, letters of protest or appeal, proposals, job queries, journal entries. We communicate far more often with written language these days than face to face.

Here are 10 tips for getting kids interested in writing:

1. Set aside a regular time to write. Stick to it. Slowly, even the most reluctant will start producing ideas to put to paper.

2. Let them choose what to write about.

3. If they are stumped, give them two or three suggestions, but let them choose.

4. Find new experiences to prime the pump. “Hey kids, why not jot down what you noticed about some of the animals you watched during our field trip to the dairy farm this week.”

5. Don’t emphasize spelling and grammatical correctness. Save that for only a few drafts you polish to perfection. Make their ideas what you talk about most.

6. Give them an audience for their writing. It can be sharing in a regular writers’ group or around the family dinner table once a week.

7. You write too and share your compositions as well.

8. Give them cool writing gear or an online portfolio: a special pen, a unique journal, a personal blog or Facebook page they can share with family and friends.

9. Encourage them to illustrate their stories and reports.

10. Find opportunities for them to connect with favorite authors — most have websites where they interact with readers. Watch for author visits in your area to libraries, schools or book stores.

What ideas can you add to the list?

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