Is your child struggling with creative writing? Three months into my son’s 6th grade school year I too noticed that he was struggling to write creatively. His papers were strongly written, but he played safe by sticking to the facts and getting it to the exact style his teacher used as an example. They lacked personality altogether. Somehow I just figured he would be great at creative writing since he always has his nose stuck in a Rick Riordan book. This isn’t that case.
His teacher told me that some kids creative writing is just one of those skills they either excel at or, like most, need a little help perfecting. Kids will have to write during their entire school years and this could get even more frustrating if they aren’t the creative writer type.
As a parent, how do you teach your child to be a creative writer? I searched high and low for articles that could help and spent time talking to his teacher. These are the best tips I have found and most of which practice with my son:
• Create a writing space at your home. Having a space that is free of clutter and away from distractions could be a great start to getting your child in the writing zone. Keep this Writing Space stocked with writing materials, a shelf with books and a few items that spark your child’s imagination. I found a little table at Ikea and set up a space in the corner of our house where there is no tv or foot traffic. I try and keep lined paper on the table and a few journals.
• Don’t rush the process. There is nothing more stressful than being rushed to come up with an idea or write about a topic when you are under a time crunch. Give your child the time to think about their writing without pressuring them. This is where their creative writing space comes in handy. I try to make sure we have nothing scheduled around the time when he will need to write. If it’s a soccer practice day, we try and write after soccer so we aren’t in a hurry to finish our paper.
• Ask them to rewrite the ending of their favorite story, every child has a favorite story. By asking them to consider altering it allows them to experiment with different concepts and translates it to writing. As a parent, you can even talk about what kind of ending you envision or ask them what would happen if you were a character in the story.
• Images can spark your imagination in great ways. Start by using visual prompts to encourage writing about what comes to your child’s mind when they see the image or object. Ask them to write a short story or poem about the visual.
• Read to your child every day. This demonstrates that reading and writing are fun activities that you can enjoy together. After each chapter or book, I tried to talk to him about what we read and ask him about what happened in the pages we read.
• Try one of Piccadilly’s Writing Prompt books. Their prompts cover a wide range of topics and can get your child thinking outside of the box. Each book includes one or two questions/prompts per page to spark ideas and help get you writing, regardless of your age. At first, my son would only write one sentence for each answer to the prompts in 300 Writing Prompts, but I challenged him to try and fill up all of the lines – and after a few pages he had no problem doing so.
After going through multiple suggestions of what to do to help my son become a better creative writer, we found what works for us and what doesn’t. Try out some of the above ideas and let us know what you found works for your family.