How do we, as parents, create an environment at home that will encourage our kids to write? Not just the kind of writing they are assigned as homework, but creative writing for fun, discovery and self-expression.
Robert Frost once said that he lived life twice: once when he experienced it and a second time when he wrote about it. By writing down our experiences, we are not only finding out more about ourselves, we are making our mark (literally and figuratively.) When kids see their words on the page, a switch gets turned on and they light up – they have taken an idea and made it come to life.
I read somewhere that the urge to write is innate – it’s what drove our ancient ancestors to write on cave walls and tablets and it’s what drives our children to scribble on paper before they can talk. So creating a home environment that supports this natural inclination can be as simple as having lots of paper and pencils around, and creating a physical space where writing can happen.
Pam Allyn, the founder of literacy organizations LitWorld and LitLife, has taught children around the world. From her experience she recently wrote a book about the writing life of children called, “Your Child's Writing Life: How to Inspire Confidence, Creativity, and Skill at Every Age.” She’s devised an easy to remember acronym to guide parents in supporting the writer inside their children:
WRITE - Word power, Reading life, Identity (or voice), Time, and Environment.
According to Allyn these five elements go a long way to giving kids the confidence to put pencil to paper.
In our “Take My Word For It!” classes we witness kids’ natural inquisitiveness, and potent imaginations – we put a pencil in their hand and stand back! They already have their ears and eyes open to the world and are soaking in so much -the page is the perfect container for their musings, emotions and flights of fancy.
In addition to plentiful pencils and paper and a writing spot, talk with your kids about what they write, share it with family members, post their pieces on the refrigerator. Point out things you noticed such as a descriptive phrase, an intriguing setting or some interesting dialogue.
Our philosophy is to create opportunities for kids to recognize the power of their imaginations, to learn how to harness their ideas and then to shape them into poetry and stories. We want them to know we are a witness to their writing life, and that what they have to say matters. Whether or not your child aspires to be an author, creating an environment at home that fosters writing has benefits that will last him a lifetime.
- By Sondra Hall Founder and Director, "Take My Word For It!"