Writing at Home
Integrating writing into the home routine is more often a tougher task that doing so with reading. While mom and dad might be readers, fewer adults consider themselves writers, and many people of all ages openly declare that they hate writing. Hate is a strong word, and one you cannot use or tolerate if you want your kids picking up a pen on a regular basis.
As an English/Writing teacher, I see this dislike for writing with each batch of new students. The hatred quickly passes as they are permitted to practice the craft and hone their skills without fear of grammatical ” mistakes. ” Once the associations between writing and judgment, and writing and work are broken, writers can begin to enjoy transfering their ideas onto the page.
Make writing fun and pleasurable for your kids and they will want to write.
Writing is the primary means by which we articulate knowledge, and increasingly, it is the means by which our intelligence and competence are judged. As the print world continues to move into online environments, we will be communicating more through text.
Clearly, people with strong, expressive writing skills have an edge over those with even average skills. I use the word “skills” on purpose. Though writers can be talented, writing is not a talent, but a skill that all can learn. We develop and hone skills through practice.
Writing is also the perfect way to “think of paper,” to work out problems, and to preserve memories.
Buy a stack or cheap notebooks and get started!
First and foremost, everyone needs their own notebook. Allow them to pick out a fancy journal, or just a plain spiral notebook that they can decorate with stickers, drawings/doodles, and thing they clip from magazines, greeting cards, etc…
Second, you need to find the time. Start slow, with a couple of days of writing each week, or dive in with a set time each day.
- Set aside a day or two every week for 15-30 minutes of uninterrupted family writing time. Put on some music, or write in the quiet. Ask everyone in the family to record what happened that week, or to tell a story about something that happened to them that was interesting. Sharing the writing helps you bond as a family.
- Young children can copy words from a book, or scribble–doodling is our “first” writing.
- Write every morning after breakfast. (This is a great summer activity). You can give the family a prompt to write about, For example: Tell the story of a favorite vacation memory. Or a descriptive exercise: Describe your grandpa for someone else. What was he like? What did he look like. What do you remember about him? What is the best thing you did with him? SHARING these writings is a nice way to bond.
- Lighten up. Writing doesn’t have to be serious! We’ve tried some fun exercises like this one from Unjournaling: Daily Writing Exercises that are NOT Personal, Not Instropective, Not Boring! Take ten minutes and think of as many reasons as you can to explain why the chicken crossed the road. Reading them aloud is a lot of fun.
If your kids resist writing, asking them to write on their own without first putting family writing into practice may not be easy. The child may question why he or she has to do this, and consider it more of a chore if they don’t already enjoy writing. For this reason, I almost always write with my college students in the classroom.
- Make journal writing a daily routine. Before bed, ask your children to write down what happened that day.
- Encourage your children to write stories. Our ten-year-old has amassed a large collection of his own work. Some are original stories, and others are stories using characters from other books. He’s a big fan of Captain Underpants, and has written a lot of tales using the characters in the book, the drawing style, and the pattern of Dav Pilkey’s series.
- Have your kids keep a reading journal, writing about to what they are reading.
- Ask your children to make lists for you. Writing doesn’t always have to be stories or essays.
- When scrapbooking, ask your children to write an account of a particular day, or write a few paragraphs for the book’s pages. Writing captions is also a quick and creative exercise.