I remember being at school and sitting at my desk, watching everyone else scribbling away, trying to get a glimpse of what others had written, because I often didn’t know what to write. Thankfully I’ve become more confident over the years and writing is now one of my favourite things to do.
Some children love writing instantly, others are less keen. But there are ways to encourage all children to write, you may just need to try and few strategies to see what works for your child. Here are my top tips for getting children writing at home.
Provide a range of writing tools and surfaces
Experimenting with a range of tools is fun, but it also allows children the opportunity to find what they like to write with and on.
Some children find it tricky to hold and write with a normal pencil and may find something chunkier easier to manage. If your child does struggle with a normal pencil, they may benefit from a pencil grip, a wider pencil, or a triangular shaped pencil.
Trying a range of pencils is great, but also feel free to ditch the pencil every now and then! Let them experiment with pens, felt tips, crayons, highlighters, chalk and (if you’re feeling brave) paint. Children like variety and providing different writing instruments allows them to get creative.
Different surfaces can also lead to different outcomes, sometimes something more textured can be easier to write on, for example. But the fun factor also applies here, so think about card, tin foil, boxes, whiteboards, blackboards and even the garden patio (with chalk, or a paint brush and water). I would also suggest offering both large and small scale things to write on, from little sticky notes to rolls of wallpaper. If children are struggling to form their letters correctly, it often helps if they practise writing them on a larger scale.
You could set up a writing table or area at home that contains a range of these things.
Bring writing activities into everyday life
If you can make writing part of daily activities, it feels less forced, but also provides regular practise. It can also bring some purpose to their writing when linked to an important task, such as writing a shopping list, for example.
Creating writing opportunities around the house that your children can interact with is a good way to encourage regular writing. Try writing a question on a piece of paper and displaying it on a wall, or on the fridge, then leave a pen and some sticky notes for them to respond. You could ask them how they’re feeling, what they want for lunch, or you could relate it to a topic they’ve been learning about.
Another idea is to have a notebook, a box, or a pin board where children can add or post their ideas, questions or comments. This provides you with an opportunity to suggest some writing as things occur throughout the day, perhaps they suggest an outing to the park – get them writing this down and add it to your family ‘to-do’ list.
Book making is a great way to inspire children to write. If they’ve spent time making their own book, they tend to take pride in writing inside it. They also have the opportunity to get creative by decorating and illustrating their book. There are lots of ways to make books which just require paper and scissors. See my separate post which shows three simple books you can make with children.
Other creative activities, such as card making, are also great for inspiring writing.
Provide them with something to write about
We all suffer from writers block at times and need a way of generating ideas. It’s important to provide children with experiences that can inspire the content of their work.
It could be as simple as giving them a picture or object to write a sentence about. Or you may wish to do a practical activity – making a meal or a cake could lead to writing a shopping list, a recipe or a menu. Read a range of different books together too, as reading and writing go hand in hand.
Considering their interests is always a good place to start, children tend to have lots of ideas when their writing is based on something they love.
My experience in the classroom taught me that children are motivated and engaged when they find something funny. I would often deliberately make mistakes when modelling a piece of writing for my class, this helped them to learn certain things, but they also found it hilarious. I recently saw a picture of a child’s writing on Instagram, which involved quite a bit of toilet humour. The simple fact is they love things that are funny, silly or gross!
Write with your children
Children always love it when their parents join in with different activities. If you want them to enjoy writing, why not show them how much you enjoy it too? A family journal is a great thing to do together. They could also stick things in it from special days out and draw pictures too. It could become a big scrap book with lots of lovely family memories inside.
Write diaries, letters and postcards
Children enjoy talking about their own experiences, so having their own diary or journal can be a great way to encourage some writing.
Letters and postcards are perfect for keeping in touch with friends and family and children will love putting a stamp on the envelope and taking their letter to the postbox. It’s also really exciting if they receive their very own letter.
Celebrate their writing
Celebrating their work is so important. Why not put their work on display somewhere in your home? Or encourage them to show their work to other family members. All this positivity will increase their confidence, so ensure you continue to praise their efforts.
I hope these tips are useful. Overall, it’s important to make your children’s writing experiences fun and that’s what ties these ideas together. An obvious, but very important point.