When I was a child I always struggled with my lack of imagination. I read lots but if I was tasked with writing a poem or story and I would find it really hard. I’d clam up and not know how to start. My teachers never really helped with how to improve. I just always thought I had no imagination.
But now N says the same thing that I used to feel. He’s got the actual writing part sorted he can write formal, ordered things like plans and instructions. But ask him to write 3 things about a picture or to write or tell a story and he gets stuck.
It’s strange because when N’s playing with toys, or boxes or outside, on his own or with others, he’s able to describe what his play involved and is able to see alternative used for things like cardboard tubes.
I want to make sure that N has confidence in thinking up ideas. I also want him to try and remember that everyone has imagination of different levels, and that he does have an imagination.
So I’m always trying to encourage him. Whether it’s writing homework from school, or just chatting about what they’ve had to write, I’m making suggestions, prompting him for ideas and trying to help him realise that imagination doesn’t have to be super creative, it can be based on real life and things he can see.
I’ve also mentioned it to his teacher, and he’s also trying to provide N with the tools and logical processes he can work through to build up story writing and his creative writing.
While N is unlikely to ever be an author with books full of wacky made up characters and ideas. But hopefully with encouragement and a bit of practice at learning ways to start and build up his writing, then he’ll at least have some confidence to give it a go and write using his imagination.
Here’s some of the methods I use to encourage imagination.
Ultimate tips to encourage imagination in writing
1, Read…a lot
Some children need inspiration, and reading different types of books will provide them with lots of ideas to prompt them in their own play and stories. So reading to them, or hearing them read is key.
2, Give children every opportunity to write
N has lots of notebooks (and steals mine) around the house. If he fancies writing he can. But I can’t suggest he does, he’ll only do it of his own accord.
3, Be interested in what they write and say
N doesn’t write much, just a few sentences, but because he’s not keen on writing about things and struggles deciding what to write, it’s about encouraging him through asking about it. Why did he write that? What happens next?
4, Give prompts
There’s no point just saying tell me a story, or write a story if they don’t know where to begin. Use prompts
- look for items around the house that they can describe
- use story cubes* (affiliate link)
- have a ideas envelope or jar with pictures or words of characters or animals, locations and activities in that children can pull from
- ask questions why, where, who, what, how
5, Share story telling
N is lazy and he won’t read books that aren’t from school, but sometimes I get sick of reading the same books all the time. So we make up our own story, by alternating the telling. I try and get things a bit more wild, but N sticks to characters with names he knows, animals he knows, and sticks to farm locations. I try and move it away from that – it can take time, but when he realises that stories can be a bit silly, he’ll try and stretch himself a bit more.
6, Provide a consistent structure
Giving your child tools and a logical process and structure to a story, may help them remember an order and they just need to fill the gaps. For example, a person, a location, the weather, the time of day, something they’re doing, who do they meet, something they do, and the ending etc.
7, Keep a joint journal
I started keeping a doodling gratitude journal a few months back, and N decided he wanted a page each day too. You could encourage it to be more writing than drawing, and have it as a joint daily task to make writing a habit.
8, Get their stories printed or made into a book
I remember as a child, one of my cousins’ parents prints out her stories, made a cover and ring bound it into a book and sent it out to other family members. I was so jealous that she’d written a book. It’s something that lots of children would love – to see their story in print. Nowadays you can make it happen really easily. Use a photo book company, or print it out yourself. Or even get it made into an ebook if that’s your thing.
For other ideas check out the Oxford Owl website.
Do your children struggle with being creative or don’t have confidence in their writing? How have you encouraged it?
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