Creative writing is one of the most valuable skills that children can learn. It teaches them to express themselves, think about things from different perspectives, develop their imaginations, and express themselves in a way that more prescriptive courses don’t encourage.
However, many parents and teachers don’t know how to introduce writing projects and need their own encouragement when helping kids put their thoughts on paper. To that end, here’s a list of four simple ways to help students get a good start on writing projects.
This technique is an old favorite of English teachers, and is extremely effective for getting kids inspired to write. Writing prompts are simple sentences or phrases that stimulate ideas that kids can develop into stories. An example of a writing prompt could be, “And you thought dragons didn’t exist.”
These can simply be written on slips of paper, but they can also be generated using a tool like Story Starters, which gives kids the option to work with themes like adventure, fantasy, or sci-fi. It also gives ideas for characters, plot, and setting. If your child is imaginative enough to “write a short email to a giggling sorcerer who can change shapes,” then give Story Starters a try.
If your child has trouble organizing ideas for their writing projects, it’s a good idea to start with a story plan. It is as simple as getting a sheet of paper and writing down headings like characters, location, plot summary, complication, resolution, and some useful vocabulary. This technique lets your child be in charge of the process, but reinforces the importance of planning before writing, which is a great skill to instill now for future success in various classes.
The Question and Answer Method
This method is adaptable and doesn’t require any special materials. It works by writing a series of questions that, when answered, make a great narrative. For this to be successful, be careful how you sequence the questions, so the story you are working towards isn’t obvious from the beginning. You can challenge your kids by using more complicated structures.
Remember keeping a journal as a kid? Journaling is an excellent way to let children express their ideas and feelings about any topic they like. It’s also an excellent exercise for homeschooled children. At the end of each day, they can write their reflections on what they’ve learned, any problems they had, and some ideas for what they want to do in upcoming lessons. This provides great feedback for parents. You can also find a comprehensive list of journaling topics online. These are a little like the creative prompts, but work well for journals too.
Even if you don’t produce a best-selling author, your kids can still have some fun trying out some of these activities. If you want more information on developing your child’s language skills, visit K12’s K-8 program page and look at the language arts programs. These are available as a K12 course or as a supplementary material.
Image via Flickr by Glazgow