Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Tips To Encourage Your Child to Write

Recently I did a workshop for parents at my son’s elementary school in their Parent Center. Some mom’s came with their toddlers. Other mom’s had older children that were in class. I talked about ways parents can encourage their children to write. It’s never too early to begin. Here are some easy, practical tips.

  1. Don’t be too critical. Nothing discourages a child more than correcting misspelled words too soon. In the early stages of the writing process called brainstorming, it is more important to get the idea down on paper. The time for editing comes later.
  2. Create a good environment at home. Make sure your child is comfortable when writing. The lighting should be good to reduce eye strain. Try to reduce distractions, like a loud TV or music. Make sure your child has the tools they need available.
  3. Take note of writing around them. Read signs as you drive together, and at the supermarket. Call attention to writing that is done by professionals you encounter such as doctors that write prescriptions and waiters that take your food order.
  4. Make handmade books together. Make a simple book by folding white paper together and stapling the fold. Start with a simple ABC or number book for younger children. Decorate it using cut paper.
  5. Write letters to family. Writing letters is a great way to keep in touch with family members in other states or countries. Teach your child how to address an envelope and prepare them in advance. Add pictures or cartoons to your letter and create your own stationary.
  6. Start a holiday newsletter. At the end of the year each child can write about events that happened to them that year and publish it in a one page newsletter that can be mailed to other family members. Be sure to add art.
  7. Create a make believe journal. Use your imagination. Let your child pretend to be someone else, like a famous actor, music star or politician and write from their perspective in this fun journal.
  8. Set up a writing event. Plan a family reading night at home, where each person can read their stories or poems. Make it special by making simple invitations and serving refreshments.
  9. Show and tell. Young writers are often proud of their work. Show it off on the refrigerator with magnets or make envelopes with their names on it to keep work inside.
  10. Praise your child. Respond to you child’s writing with enthusiasm. It lets them know that you think writing is an important and worthwhile activity.

Posted in April, 2008

Friday, April 18, 2008

My Nephew, The Writer

A big manila envelope arrived in the mail one day from my 11 year-old nephew in Chicago. Inside was a letter that read,

"Dear Auntee, I have two stories. Can you correct the spelling and also type it out on the computer. Add a picture on the cover, then can we try to get it published! Love your nephew.

P.S. When you finish, please send it back with copies. Thanks!"

Delighted, I then pulled out the two stories that were hand written on lined paper. One had eleven chapters. He even gave himself a pen name. I was impressed. This is cause for celebration. I got on the phone and called him right away.

What just happened here, I said to myself. My nephew was never a real fan of books or reading, I remembered. Something apparently clicked for him one day. When questioned he said that when he reached 9 years old, things changed for him. "I finally found some books I liked," he said. "I really got excited," he added. And those books were mysteries, thrillers and comedies, he told me.

My sister says that now, he sits in his room with the door closed and writes and writes, just like a real writer. He told me he was encouraged by his Dad who writes children's stories.

I am so proud of him because it takes discipline to write and a real commitment. There is so much competition for kid's time and attention, especially with all the latest computer games out on the market.

I'm still typing up the stories he sent me the other day. Every few days he calls and asks me if I'm finished. He just text messaged me a moment ago and wrote, "Auntee, are you done yet? Also I need some tips on how to publish." he added. Boy, I had better hurry up and finish the ones he sent. My sister called and said he just finished four more.

Posted in April, 2008