Helping Children Write

Children are naturally imaginative. They love listening to stories and telling them but writing a story is not such an easy task. How many adults do you know who can write a novel or a short story…. good ones?

Most children have one advantage over adults in that they (hopefully) have not yet learned to be critical of their stories… they are willing to just let their imaginations go. This is so precious and something you want to guard. As for me, by the time I get to the end of the first paragraph I’m already inwardly criticizing my work. If that happens to you too, I highly recommend Daphne Gray’s website and blog – I love reading her newsletter. Her hints are well worth knowing for your children too.

Developing techniques of story writing takes time, practice and patience. All the more reason to not only protect your child’s adventures into writing but also foster confidence and enjoyment of the story telling. So be prepared to encourage, listen and enjoy!

Some tips…

1. Talk, talk and talk! Children won’t be able to write until they can express their ideas verbally. So talk about favorite stories, characters, plots and what makes a good story. Talk about the problems characters face, ask your child what would they have done or if things could be solved a different way or make up a new ending etc. Having rollicking conversations with your children is all excellent preparation for writing.

2. Tell stories…. Telling stories helps children sequence events and remember details and this will help them when they begin to write their ideas. You can start with ‘stories’ about themselves and their ‘adventures’ – such as a birthday party they attended… and then add a few delicious extras to spice it up! All in the name of fiction of course. Take turns adding to the story so everyone can join in the fun.

3. Retell fairy tales. Take a well-known story and tell it again by changing some details. For example, perhaps the three pigs are three kittens or maybe they have the names of the children in your family and so on. You can do this as entertainment during those long car trips. The structure of the tale helps children stay on track – and have a beginning, middle and end… rather than be a never-ending story connected with …. and…. and … and! It also helps with story structure such as characters, events, plots, problems the characters have and so on. This is an easy and ‘safe’ way for children to be creative and is especially great for children who lack confidence. Adding your children as the characters in the story is fun and children love it!

4. Speed writing. This is a great way to motivate reluctant writers… but this one is for another post!