Ways to Support Your Young Writer

A lot of parents are home with a lot of kids right now, trying to figure out how to fill the time. Relax. There’s always this weird adjustment period where the hours — no — where the minutes — no — where the seconds creep by. After a week or so you’ll fall into a rhythm. (Although, I know, that’s a lot of seconds.)

Here are some tips for encouraging young writers:

Make sure you catch Mo Willem’s wonderful “Lunch Doodles” every day. He has great crafts and advice for very young writers. (Although I admit that I wanted to print out the worksheet and make toilet-paper-tube people too. I still might go back and do that.) You and your kids will love Mo’s crafts.Start at the beginning. Earlier episodes are on YouTube. 

Young writers need to write. Strangely enough, learning to write fiction is not that different from playing soccer or an instrument. Practice. The more your child writes, the better they will become. (This is true for adults too!)

 

Beginning writers need encouragement. If your child chooses to share their story with you, focus on what is working. Remember that you never got to see your favorite writer’s early drafts. First drafts can be really rough. The more your child writes, the more characterization and imagery will begin to appear in their work. (Above is Ernest Hemingway’s first story.)

Model the behavior you want to see. Remember how your math teacher always worked the first problem on the white board? Consider writing with your children.

There is a place for spelling, grammar, and punctuation, and that place is not in a first draft. When someone is being creative — and this goes for adult writers too — many of the ‘edit’ functions of the brain turn off. Or maybe they are overpowered by the sheer joy of creation. Let first drafts revel in their messiness. As Ernest Hemmingway once said:
“The only important thing about a first draft…is to finish it.”

Write about a stolen dog...

Write to prompts. This is one of my favorite activities. Starting May 20th I’m tweeting (@LoisBrandt1) a kid-friendly writing prompt every day. Write to a prompt with you child for 10 minutes. They can write longer if they’d like. Even those 10 minutes a day will improve your child’s writing.

On a personal note I’d like to thank you for parenting during these difficult times. My own parents were part of the Greatest Generation, who lived through the depression and World War II. And as I look at parents now, I see great strength and determination. We will all get through this together. We will be stronger. And our children will be better people.