Did you ever write in a journal as a kid? Or maybe you illustrated a few scenes that made their way to your family’s refrigerator. Children have a power to create and tell stories that is unmatched, but they sometimes can struggle to find the right path to take when it comes to putting their thoughts down on paper. We have advice to help alleviate this and get your child’s creative juices flowing by making the writing process full of excitement, action and encouragement.
On December 29th, here at Blossom, we announced the title of our next picture book: The Friendly Bookshelf! The Friendly Bookshelf is a story that centers around Bibli, a little library bookshelf who longs to hear a story about someone like him. At Blossom, we believe that every child has a unique story to share, but, just like Bibli, they might need a little help finding the courage to tell it and the inspiration to write it! In this way, we thought it would be fitting to share tips and an activity with you to help your children develop their voices and write stories of their very own.
Just like reading can help children develop their vocabulary, confidence, worldly knowledge, and emotional intelligence, writing can very much do the same, but on a more intimate level. In fact, according to children’s publishing company Scholastic, research shows that writing and journaling helps your children grow, establish a habit of writing, and explore different models of the written word. According to the Victoria State Government Education and Training Department, encouraging storytelling in young children promotes literacy and self-expression, which can lead to a lifetime of success.
So how do you encourage your children to take pencil to paper? Or if they’re already writing, how do you help them develop further? These tips can help.
Tip #1: Writing Starts with Reading
One cannot write well if they don’t read widely, which is true for people of all ages. However, according to Oxford Learning, regular reading can encourage regular writing while also giving children the skills and examples needed to develop their own writing. Many children tend to write replicas of their favorite stories, or even fan-fiction, before exploring original stories of their own. It’s a process that allows them to come into their own as writers with a strong foundation to keep them going. At Blossom, we also have activities that can help your child read regularly and develop a strong interest in books.
Tip #2: Encourage Journaling
Journaling is a good practice to instill in your children because it gives them a space to explore their feelings, reflect on their days, and give them an open-ended medium to write as little or as much as they want. According to Scholastic, journaling allows children to develop their writing and communication skills that will benefit them for years to come. It also makes a wonderful childhood keepsake that your child can look back upon when they grow up, potentially serving as new writing inspiration in their adult-life!
Tip #3: Utilize a Multimodal Process
Depending on your child’s age, they may want to tell stories and communicate through different media, including comics, computer generated media, painting, and more. According to the Victoria State Government Department of Education and Training, facilitating this model of writing in younger children allows them to develop their communication processes using methods that they can understand.
Even if there are more pictures than words, your children can still develop their emotional intelligence and communication skills more widely than without these activities. One multimodal approach you can take is to encourage your child to create a cover for their book. They can illustrate it, come up with a fun title, and have this serve as an introduction to the story they want to tell.
Tip #4: Read Their Stories
Much of children’s habits rely on their confidence in themselves, from writing to playing music and beyond. So, whether you have a kindergartener who is writing short stories and drawing scenes or you have a fifth grader who is starting to write chapters of a book, it’s a good idea to read them if they offer them to you. This helps them to feel seen and heard, giving them the confidence to continue writing.
Tip #5: Don’t Shy Away from Prompts
There are many great websites that offer free writing prompts for kids, including our very own. Prompts can give them a good starting point if they are looking to explore their own creative voices outside of journaling or writing their own versions of fan-fiction. Prompts should be used loosely, however, so children aren’t “forced” to write about something they don’t want to. Serving as a jumping off point, prompts can be a useful tool, but children should also be given the freedom needed to explore what they want to write outside of these parameters.
Tip #6: Revise the Story Later
A bad habit that just about every writer has, however young, old, or professional, is to edit as they write. While editing is a good skill to acquire, and one to instill as normal and helpful in older children, doing so while writing can lower a child’s self-esteem and cause them to worry they are not a good enough writer. First drafts may not always be the best, but, according to Sylvan Learning, saving the editing portion for later rather than sooner can save a lot of grief while also teaching them that editing is a natural part of the writing process.
Tip #7: Record the Story
Sometimes, depending on your child’s age, physically writing the story can impede them from making the progress they want. Sylvan Learning recommends having them record their story with a voice recorder instead, if they struggle to write all their thoughts down. Once they have recorded the story, they can transcribe it, instilling a good practice of writing a story from start to end while practicing their writing and listening skills.
Other ways you can help your child visualize their story is to play storytelling games, such as acting out the story with the whole family. You can get creative with it by dressing up, playing around with voice acting, and using items around the house to design sets for the story. This can help bring your child’s story to life, which would later make it a bit easier for them to write down.
Tip #8: Use a Story Development Worksheet
A story development worksheet is a handy tool that can allow your child to write down their ideas for their stories—whether they’re writing fiction, memoir, or nonfiction—in an organized manner. Blossom has developed a story development worksheet that can help your child explore the plot, characters, and setting of their story. Download it here to help them get started writing today!
Writing is more than just a subject in school. It is a tool we use to communicate every day, and can become a lifelong habit of reflection and expression that can benefit your child regardless of the career or education they may seek out in the future. These tips can help a budding writer develop their voice, write the story they’ve always wanted to, and feel confident while doing so, just like our character Bibli in our newest book The Friendly Bookshelf!
We also have an ever-growing “Grown-Ups” page with tips on parenting, education, creativity, and more. And if your child is looking for a story about a character finding their own story, our newest book The Friendly Bookshelf is the perfect read! Check out more about our new book here and be sure to sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date on all of our announcements.
Sources: Scribblitt, Victoria State Government Department of Education and Training, Scholastic, Sylvan Learning, Color in Colorado, Oxford Learning