By: Paris Herbert-Taylor
Nurturing and developing writing skills in young people allows for development of great tools that aid children throughout their schooling years and into adulthood. Writing and storytelling let children expand their imagination, extend their communication abilities and it also offers them a space to explore their feelings.
As children grow, their understanding of themselves changes. Writing about thoughts, feelings and ideas is one way in which children are able to distinguish themselves as separate from their family unit, and unique among their peers. Sharing their stories, or their journal entries in the lower primary years allows for a sense of self to develop and lets the child understand that their ideas may differ from those of the people around them, and that what they are sharing, writing, and thinking about are valuable and interesting entities.
As children progress through Middle school and High school, writing and being able to communicate through the written word becomes vital as many of the subjects offered at this level are centered upon the need to express thoughts and ideas, as well as recount learned facts.
Kimberley O’Brien is the principal psychologist at the Quirky Kid Clinic and has worked as a child psychologist for 16 years. Kim notes that from a mental well-being point of view “writing provides a healthy outlet for self-expression, reducing the likelihood of behavioural, social and emotional issues.” Positive outcomes of getting your child to write may be: better communication skills, a developed imagination and pride in creating something creative.
If your child is struggling to write or express themselves with the written word, there are many positive ways to encourage them.
- Consider finding a diary for your child to decorate and make their own, and ask them to jot down ideas, feelings or even little stories or funny lines. Have a sharing time allocated each week in which they can read you, or let you read, what they have written. Offer praise and encouragement.
- Suggest your child participates in writing competitions or to write a letter to their favorite magazine. Even if the child doesn’t win or have their work published, the process of completing a formatted writing piece, with encouragement and praise, will build confidence to keep writing.
- Ask your child to write a letter or make a card for someone, and then send it. It could even be a letter to someone in the household, like the family pet. This way the child is learning about writing as a communication and can be a fun exercise that they will enjoy, especially if they receive a card or letter back!
- Use resources like the Tell Me A Story Cards to encourage imagination and support for creative writing.
- It is more important to get a young child writing than to worry about sentence structure, grammar or spelling. Those things will improve with the frequency of writing, and if you daunt them with too many rules and regulations, they may not enjoy the experience and realize that writing is actually really fun!
Discuss children writing with Paris and our team at the Quirky Kid Huddle – our parenting forum. We have also prepared a list of some upcoming writing competitions for kids and are keen to hear if you have any more tips and ideas.
Paris Herbert-Taylor is a Creative writer for the Quirky Kid Clinic. This is her first post. © Quirky Kid
Information for this piece was taken from the Raising Children Network website, parenting Discussion forums and from an interview with Child Psychologist Kimberley O’Brien.