Prompt Your Child to Be a Better Writer
Parents and kids don't always see eye to eye. But when it comes to creative writing, both will agree that a blank page is daunting. To help your child develop writing skills, begin with something other than a sheet of white paper.
These suggestions will help your child develop creative writing skills and boost confidence each time he picks up a pencil:
- Ask and tell. Before your child decides on her story, ask a series of leading questions that get her to think about the three important aspects: beginning, conflict and action, and resolution. Try "When did this story take place?" or "What is the most important event in the story?"
- Take dictation. Most parents read to their children at a young age, but few engage them in writing at an equally early age. If your child is too young to write down his own words, transcribe what he dictates. Prompt creativity with questions such as "What is [this character] thinking?" or "What sound does that make?" Be sure to allow ample time for your child to answer.
- Try and try again. Good writers continually modify their stories. Have your child use sticky notes to add ideas to a written page. Encourage her to read aloud her writing and invite listeners to critique it by asking, "What did you like about the story?" or "Is there anything that you would take out of the story?"
- Step onto the stage. Playwriting in small groups can also help kids become more confident, skilled writers. In plays, children develop their ability to recognize important details such as how their characters speak or how they exhibit their personalities, all of which is entirely up to the imagination.
- Create story prompts. Gather magazine pictures that feature character types, locations, and key objects and actions that play a role in the story. Cut them out and glue them to index cards. Then use the cards as a basis for writing.
- Go from wordless to wordy. Write a story based on a wordless picture book, such as the Good Dog, Carl series by Alexandra Day. Have your child stay focused on the ideas in book. To challenge your child, ask leading questions such as "What is going on here?" or "What happens in the end?"
- Let her take the lead. If creative writing doesn't interest your child, try authentic writing projects such as a neighborhood newspaper, a holiday newsletter, or even your evening dinner menu.
- Offer a helping hand. It's okay to help your child with writing efforts — if he asks for it. Don't be afraid to start or add onto his sentence if he feels stuck. Eventually, his story will grow. Regardless of whether the finished manuscript is professionally printed, typed on your home computer, or handwritten on construction paper and stapled together, know that it's okay to make spelling corrections before the final draft.
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