Not all children enjoy school. Not all children find it easy. Some work hard and want to do well, but don’t enjoy certain parts of the work they have to do. It’s also often harder to get children doing school work when home schooling. So often, children relate school to doing school work, so why should they learn at home.
For N, it’s reading and writing he’s not keen on. He’s dedicated to working hard and generally can repeat back what they’ve learnt, but he’s a very verbal learner. He’ll take it on, but if he’s reading something I’m not sure how much sinks in. He’s getting better now he’s understanding more about what he needs to take note of for comprehension and writing reviews afterwards. But he wouldn’t choose to read out of school – apart from when he’s given a challenge for homework, or if he’s discovered a new tennis biography.
With writing it’s similar. He doesn’t enjoy fantasy or stories that aren’t realistic. He much prefers stats and reference information. And this is reflected in the writing he does. So much of primary school writing requires imagination and story writing, and that’s not easy for all children. Because he doesn’t read much, his knowledge and experience of letting go and exploring wild stories in his writing is hard to do. Writing inspiration isn’t one of his things.
We’ve tried lots of methods to get N reading more for leisure (or at all). And encouraging him to write more is also something I’ve tried.
Sometimes he will take himself off and start writing something, but generally it’ll be a sentence and title, then he’ll give up and rewrite the same thing on another page. And another. And not actually get past that much. I’m keen to get his ability to get spelling tests right, to then translate to his writing. And to encourage him to do notes, before writing up, but then the option to edit and correct spelling and grammar which at the moment he refuses to do.
I’m all for encouraging more writing and it doesn’t all have to be stories though, so here’s some ideas on encouraging children to be more inspired to write.
Writing inspiration to encourage children to write more
1, Provide a variety of pens and notepads readily available
N loves new stationery (wonder where he gets that from?!), and a new pen or notebook will always get him writing something. At school they tend to be strict about what type of pen they write with, but at home it doesn’t matter..
2, Find a pen that works for them
Our school provides fine handwriting pens, but N (and most of his classmates) prefer to have their own fountain pens.
3, Try making story games
When we were children we used to do foldover stories with groups of friends and family. They’re great for children to understand basic story flow. But also just to make up more ridiculous ideas.
You need 2 people to ‘play’. Each has a piece of paper. Then each person writes the sentence or phase of the story before folding the paper over to hide their writing, and pass on to the next person. We keep ours short, but you can change any of the stages or add more on to make a longer story. Encourage children to continue their story they’re imagining as it happens. And not to include just random sentences that don’t make their own story.
The stages we write in turn:
Name (a man/boy, famous or not)
And meets someone (name of a woman/girl)
What they did
Then they went to / did?
We’ve had some really funny stories and N loves to do these before bedtime to have a load of laughs as we open up the stories and read them out. Sometimes you get stories that could make sense. Other times, they’re totally mixed up and nuts. It really helps N get away from such factual stories compared with normal.
4. Set up their own comic book or story board
If they want to draw comic stories, or do stop motion films, get them to plan their order and what they’re going to include.
5. Set up a blog
Blogs don’t have to be in the child’s name, you can make them totally anonymous, and private too. Typing might be frustrating for children because it’s hard to get fast, but is a skill that will help them in future. Sometimes they’re more interested in writing on screen vs on paper.
6. Create books from their stories
When I was a child I was so jealous of my 2nd cousin because her parents ‘published’ her stories, poems and writing one Christmas and sent it round to family members as Christmas presents. All it was was her writing printed off and ringbound, but she had her own book. I was very impressed at age 11. Nowadays, it’s even easier. Get children to write poems, short stories or longer prose, and you can create pdf ebooks quite easily online. You could even publish them properly for sale if they were good as a self publisher.
N was quite excited when I suggested he could create a book of short stories (not enough to actually write anything though!). He did actually have his short story once published in a book of school children’s Roald Dahl style stories. His school set the story writing as homework, then all those who wrote one got them in the book. He loved seeing his story there and reading his classmates stories too.
7. Write song lyrics
If they can’t think of their own, they could try transposing lyrics from their favourite singers or bands. All writing is good practice (and if it was good enough for us in our day, I’m sure kids of today can learn to do this rather than the easy way of just googling them!)
8. Create challenges
A prompt is a great way to get children thinking creatively. Have a prompt each week, you could have a jar with different words on they can pick from. Then they could time themselves in writing either facts about that item, a poem or a story. If you did it daily, it could just be 2 sentences written instead. Story Cubes are a more formal way of creating stories.
9, Give them a personalised journal
Double up with giving them an outlet to pour out any worries or to add daily gratitude points to, with writing practice.
10. Enter competitions
500 words is a great competition for children to enter, and many schools get children to write their stories for homework. Look out for local competitions or help organise one at school.
11. Remind them they don’t need to be perfect
I think N struggles because he doesn’t like to be wrong. But with writing, apart from spelling and grammar, there isn’t really a wrong way to write if you’re creating your own story and style. Some children just need to be encouraged to freely write without worrying what they’re writing.
12. Write without planning
At school they learn how to build up notes and plan their stories to ensure all the grammar points are included. It helps them pad out the story with imagery and descriptions. But some children just need to get used to writing bigger passages of writing. The most N ever wrote during home schooling over the summer was when I told him just to pick a topic and write about it for 20 minutes. Ok, it wasn’t the most inspiring piece of work, and had a lot of ‘ands’ in it. But, getting a lot down on paper gave him confidence that he could write a lot.
In my experience, the first piece of writing, just getting it all down on paper, is the best way to do it and avoid breaking a flow. Then you can start editing it afterwards (I got through the 3rd year of my degree by writing essays in one go! So much faster than all the editing drafts I did in the previous 2 years.
13. Share their dreams
Get them to write down their dreams…their real ones while sleeping, describing them (if they remember them). Or they could describe their dreams for the future.
Hopefully these ideas will help with writing inspiration in encouraging your child writing for fun.
How do your children enjoy writing?
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