I LOVE writing. I discovered this as a child and looking back I remember spending hours putting pen to paper. I specifically remember in secondary school writing a historical recount in my history lessons and getting an A for it (no A* back then, so to get an A – particularly for an average student - was some achievement!). Writing about something I enjoyed learning about was not difficult for me, I just enjoyed exploring worlds and making them come to life.
It never occurred to me to make writing a living, although I toyed with the idea of being a fashion journalist for a time – more for the fashion than the writing, I admit. Strangely, I dropped out of my English Lit A level because my grades weren’t up to scratch… If I had known that 15 years later, I would leave University with a First-Class degree, mainly due to the ability to write high level essays and dissertation, I perhaps would have pursued my lessons with more fervour. But then again, maybe I wouldn’t because the subjects we studied didn’t “light me up”.
Last week, I spoke about finding talents. A reader emailed me to say “passion” would be a better word, and I agreed. Having a passion for something inevitably increases the success because you are fascinated by it or enjoy it so much it never feels like work, especially hard work. This blog has become a space for me to write. I am passionate about creative learning and being able to write about it (and share it with you) is just the perfect scenario!
But we don’t all like writing, do we?
And what if you have a child who doesn’t enjoy the process as much as I did? Who struggles to come up with ideas? Or the idea of holding a pencil for more than a few minutes is horrifying?!
In my experience, this happens more than you think. In the early days of school, I found that, interestingly, boys were less likely to enjoy the process. They preferred the quick-ness of maths and writing numbers, than churning out a story or two… and to be honest, who, when you are young, has time to sit and write when there is so much out there to explore and learn about?!
Yes, we do expect too much sometimes, so building in some alternative strategies for those days when Mrs. Jones, the teacher, says “Now, for this holiday, I’d like [Fred] to keep a diary…” and your heart sinks in dread of what is to come, here are 5 top tips to help you through and bring writing to life!
Start by not calling it a diary! Come up with a “Superhero” title like “Fred’s Fantastic Adventures!” or “Annabel’s Amazing Antics!” Do this with any topic – think about the “Horrible History” titles, for example, created to excite and make reading fun. Let your child do this too!
Make the book to write in. Use a cereal box and make a cover. Decorate it with anything personal to your child. They can draw pictures and add them as a collage, cover the cover in fabric and glue on some felt flowers, glue on a patchwork of pictures or fabric and then create other pictures to add as they go… the ideas are endless! Here’s a picture of a journal that Summer made at one of our workshops for inspiration 😃 It's complete with pocket for her favourite pen too!
Don’t fancy a book? Why not make a video diary? Exactly the same processes but with spoken word rather than written. These days, you can always use software to add and edit captions for the video, which will incorporate some written skills.
Use photos to build the diary and writing is absolutely required (thank you Mrs. Jones!) the photos can be annotated using sentences. Maybe add some diagrams too, with labels. All forms of writing should be celebrated, and I bet Mrs. Jones will be very impressed when the finished products comes back to school, along with a proud pupil!
Finally, typing. It is writing, after all – I’m doing it now (not very well!) and wish that I had learnt early on how to touch type… Touch typing is a skill we should all have these days, when we are expected to do so much on a laptop. Think about when your child gets to secondary school and their whole education seems to land on a screen. Homework is expected to be typed rather than written. So, start now. Use holidays to practise. There are lots of different touch-typing programmes out there for kids. And once they have started, they can practise by typing out their day, using spellcheck to check their mis-spelt words (watch out for US spellings if you are in the UK). All the while they will be learning, practicing spelling and sentence structure, as well as using their knowledge of the written word to explore their holiday adventures!
I hope that helps if you are struggling with writing at home. Try them and see how you get on. You can adapt them for any situation, so use these strategies for any type of homework and see how it builds up your child’s confidence 🙂 Most of all, make it fun!
I'd love to hear how things go, so please share in the comments! Good luck :)