Many people want to know how to make their children love reading and writing. But unfortunately, it’s very hard to find a motivating factor to get your children, young or old, to enjoy reading and writing if they just don’t seem to be bent that way. But writing is essential to all of life, so eventually they will have to learn! So how can we help jumpstart this process while making it fun and easy?
First of all, in order to be a writer, you need to be a reader. I know that there are many children who struggle with reading, and now-a-days the hard thing to do is to find books that are fun and enjoyable but aren’t at a basic level. (Which is one of the reasons that I’m a writer today!) I would encourage you parents to do a few things here.
You as parents need to be reading books and screening books for your children. You set a huge example for your children. So if you read and enjoy it, they will start to pick up on that. You’ll also be able to find books that you can pass off to your children to read and then discuss it with them.
One of the most important things you can also be doing as a parent is to read books aloud to your children. Story books, the Bible, biographies… Anything! Our family has read tons of books aloud. We’ve read so many Lamplight books, biographies from the Then and Now series, books on family life and church life, classics, The Chronicles of Narnia, etc. Reading to your kids help fuel them in a love for learning and helps build quality relationships.
Once you get your kids reading, then you can introduce writing. My parents started me off by writing short reports about the books I was reading, field trips that we went on, etc. These were very short and basic, but I learned how to put thoughts together and organize paragraphs and apply the little bit of grammar I had learned.
As your children get older, the projects will obviously get bigger and longer. We’ll save that topic for another day, though. But there is something I want to talk about here.
I have a younger brother who is definitely more science and numbers oriented. My parents asked me to help him learn how to put some of his thoughts onto paper. We started going through a curriculum, and then I gave him a situation and asked him to write a very short creative story. I wasn’t expecting much. But what he brought back to me was amazing! Of course it needed work, but he simply needed an idea to get him rolling. Now, he can write!
So for your children in middle school and high school that struggle with writing, vary their reports and essays with creative writing. If they can’t think of anything, give them a situation. Here’s some ideas to help get you thinking:
- Make up a story about an outing with some of your best friends.
- Make up a story about your family.
- Make up a story in medieval times about a squire who is about to become a knight (this would also combine history research and writing together!).
- If they have a favorite character from a book or book series, have them write more about that character.
- Make up two fictional best friends and put them in a different state so that they can have fictional lives and you can write whatever you want about them.
- What about a story about someone lost in the woods?
- People stranded on a desert island?
- A medieval princess growing up?
- A hunting expedition, either in current times or another century.
- Think about time travel!
- Younger children often like to write stories about animals.
- A story about a person in the Bible or someone in Bible times, like I did!
- Have them write down stories that their grandparents or aunts or uncles tell them.
- Stories of people with exciting jobs, like firefighters, police officers, astronauts, etc.
You can also give them situations like this:
“Ok, write about a cashier in Wal-Mart who’s working and tired and all the power goes out.”
“Write about finding a purse and having to return it to someone.”
“Write about a person rescuing an animal.”
“Write about seeing some little kids being bullied.”
“Write about observing a car accident.”
Also, I would highly recommend having your older children email frequently with “pen pals.” When your children have to put their thoughts down on paper to communicate with their friends, they’ll quickly pick up on spelling errors, grammatical errors, and other things that it’s hard to do when you’re just writing on paper. It also gives them some motivation to write and to get better at it.
There’s my thoughts for the day!
I’ll continue to post about motivation and teaching writing over the course of this blog, as well.
Thanks for reading! Happy Writing!