Do you have a reluctant writer?

If 2021 crazy covid lockdowns have shed light on anything, it’s our awareness of our children’s learning (because we’ve been their teacher – some of us, for the first time – and we were kind of thrown in the deep end!)

How many of you with primary aged kids got to the writing task that day only to be met with tears (mostly theirs…), fighting and resistance? Because, same! And I’m a teacher…. send help!!

For background, my daughter is almost 8 and is super bright with an imagination and flair for creativity that has always blown my mind. Her vocabulary is out of this world and she loves coming up with stories. BUT… it’s pretty difficult to muster that energy within the 4 walls of a classroom, especially when you add the pressure of time constraints, criteria, a teacher that with all the greatest intentions will usually pick apart the work, social comparisons, assessment and most of the time – limited creative freedom.

Kids are often told what to write about, how to write about it, how to structure their writing, what words to use and how exactly to illustrate their work. This can be fine for an information report or newspaper article – but creative writing is supposed to be… creative!

It’s supposed to elicit magic, take you to new worlds, escape reality and be unapologetically individual. Unfortunately these qualities don’t tend to mesh with classroom teaching so …to put it bluntly, kids end up hating writing… even if they have all the potential in the world and are budding little authors busting to tell their stories…

But especially those struggling to find their feet with creative writing and are then impacted by this unnatural environment.

So how do we reunite them with their love for writing?

  1. Virtual Writers Sessions with Junior Writers Club

Junior Writers Club offers a variety of services designed to encourage young writers – from after-school activities, school holiday programs, home-school sessions, publishing opportunities and more

Each session gives young writers a chance to ask questions of a published author, have a crazy writing prompt to work on, and a chance to share their writing, as well as the opportunity to connect with other young writers.

JWC also offer writing packs to accommodate your child’s needs when they’re feeling a bit ‘Zoomed Out’?

Are you looking for something to encourage their creative writing that is off screens?

Junior Writers Club Writing Packs:

Each month, a pack is sent to your child in the mail with:

* 4 writing prompt cards

* 5 reading prompts to encourage reading

* Writing tips based on the theme

* Stickers, bookmarks, and other bookish treats

All this for only $14.95 per month.

JWC also encourage young writers to submit the stories they write to The Clubhouse newsletter!

Professor Robyn Ewing (2015) said “Strong creative thinking and learning skills are critical to students’ social and emotional wellbeing, academic achievement and lifelong learning” when discussing the benefits of creative writing workshops for children, including;

  • A substantial improvement in writing quality
  • Engaging more with writing tasks
  • Better planning and organisational skills
  • A greater ability to reflect and self-evaluate
  • Increased confidence, and
  • More willingness to talk to people, particularly adults.

A creative writing course also has the power to improve communication skills. When you’re finding the right word to include in your writing, you engage the same parts of your brain that are active in everyday writing and speaking.

  1. Harness their imagination

Creative writing allows children a method to express their emotions and unleash their imaginations, while exploring the world around them – or creating their own!

Their stories might showcase mermaids, unicorns, teachers, farmers, astronauts, scientists or anything they can think up – the way they invent and explore these characters and storylines assist them in managing issues and themes that are relatable and relevant to them.

By using their imagination to come up with plots, problems, innovative solutions, as well as organising their thoughts and ideas, kids are learning to think outside the box and work actively on their problem solving skills.

ALSO – some Kids LOVE to entertain and perform. Use this energy to encourage their writing –  asking them to share their work with you and really listening – “What happened next?”  etc.  motivates them to continue with their writing.

Encouraging your child to be creative and praising their creative efforts can go a long way in  inspiring their writing; a creative solution to a problem, creative thinking, a piece of art or craft, a great joke… all of these efforts, when encouraged, can lead to a greater love of writing and means they’re more likely to try… which leads us to…

  1. flexibility and freedom over perfection

Don’t focus on spelling, punctuation and grammar. I have taught kids of every age and ability – the common thread is their desire to write freely. It is imperative to support your kids if they request it, but to keep the focus on their story, their effort and their expression rather than any errors they might have made. These can become teachable moments in other lessons or conversations but should never overshadow the joy of creating something from the heart.

This is something that my daughter loves about Junior Writers Club… after her first session, I asked her about her “teacher” and she quickly told me – “she’s not like a teacher mum, she’s written actual books and she tells us it’s ok to make mistakes!” She is usually a ball of stress when it comes to anything academic, and is known to strive for perfection but seeing how free she felt after these sessions was magical.

  1. Encourage them to read widely

The single greatest thing you can do as a parent to encourage a love for writing (and reading… and to foster connection and…. Well I could go on forever) is read regularly to your child. Reading will help to stimulate their imagination and improve their vocabulary. The characters they’ll meet in books, the worlds they become apart of for a short time and the events that transpire can also provide inspiration for their own ideas.

Reading also forms the basis for Inquisitiveness and Research Skills. Kids are naturally curious and writing allows them to utilise this curiosity and creativity to actively learn more about something to include in their story, fact-check, or make their writing more credible. I’ve witnessed the joy as kids become joyful little experts in their area of interest – whether this be mythical creatures, trains, animals, prehistoric times, dinosaurs, technology or sports… when they’ve been given the freedom to creatively explore something they’re genuinely interested in and create their own story about it – the joy is immeasurable.

  1. Make it fun and based on their unique interests

Oh the power of some fun, personalised stationery and books to get your kids motivated to write! From glitter and rainbows, to dinosaurs and unicorns, let them choose their tools and watch how much fun they have in the writing process.

Creative writing is supposed to be fun. Creating new worlds and characters, becoming apart of this world and allowing others to experience what you’ve created are some of the most magical moments we can wish for. It is not supposed to be anxiety provoking or seen as a chore – letting kids explore writing from their own perspective, harnessing their own unique passions and interests allows them to experience this joy without the pressure, and everyone deserves that opportunity.

Displaying their work  on the fridge or in their bedrooms and reading it aloud with them also adds to this fun and positivity – enhancing their confidence and willingness to continue. You could also keep the ones you and your child like best; they’ll love reading their early works when they’re still writing for fun as an adult – or when they’re a big time author!

Why should we encourage creative writing or participate in a writing workshop?

Creative writing can benefit your child in so many ways:
  • improving their spelling, grammar and editing techniques.
  • fostering an enthusiasm for reading, as reading and writing are interconnected.
  • helping to boost their confidence – especially if they are reluctant writers.
  • It’s so much fun – for both the author and the reader!
  • It could allow opportunities for other interests and skills such as design and illustration.
  • Fostering communication skills and expanding vocabulary.
  • Allowing opportunities for expression and working through emotions.
  • Encouraging empathy, creative thinking and problem solving.

Finally, creative writing  classes such as JWC make the process enjoyable and allow young writers the opportunity to form relationships with other creative writers that can last a lifetime, as no other group of people has the same appreciation for the creative process. Creative writing communities encourage growth in your writing and in your self. Creative writing requires the skills that can help you in everyday life, and a creative writing course can help. For my daughter, it was the “unschooliness” of writing class that sold her – she is able to write freely from her heart and has so much fun!!

Thanks so much for reading!

I would love for you to join the discussion on my blogs, and join our community of parents, carers and educators who are all celebrating every child’s kind of genius.

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Ashlei – Triangle Genius