9 Easy Ways to Improve Your Child’s Creative Writing Skills
Creative writing skills boost problem-solving, innovation, and resourcefulness. Helping our kids build these skills is important. Plus, it also gives them an outlet for all their creative ideas. How do you build those skills without making it seem like work?
Here are 9 ways to make creative writing skills fun:
1. Read Often
Books are the best precursor to writing. So get your kids reading! With repeated exposure to words, ideas, and styles, and in books, kids build the ability to mimic and adopt them.
Flood them with exposure to books and watch their skills rise. Yes, it will look a lot like what they’ve read at first. That’s ok! They’re just playing “dress up” with other people’s ideas. They’ll soon start writing like themselves.
Encourage your children to read more than one type of writing. If they gravitate toward non-fiction, maybe try historical fiction. If they only like superhero stories, introduce them to a story with a main character of a different gender or ethnicity.
2. Identify Ways to Practice
Just like anything, improving creative writing skills takes practice. Set your children up for success by making practice easy and fun.
You can piggy-back creative writing off of other imaginative play and encourage your child to write down episodes of the games he plays. Allow the free flow of ideas – the more creative the better!
Focus on this type of activity can be tricky for kids. It’s important to give kids a dedicated writing space. Fill it with fun paper or a kids’ journal, great pencils, and few distractions.
3. Encourage Your Child to Write
Children are often predisposed to wanting to write. Even before they can form letters correctly, many children will say they are “writing.”
Nurture this desire!
When children feel writing is powerful, and their writing matters, they will want to keep trying. However, they want to start writing is how they should write.
If your child struggles with the physical act of writing, consider helping with that part. You can use talk-to-text features in apps or even agree to be their “scribe.” Then they worry less about the act of writing and pay more attention to the ideas they are forming.
4. Use Writing Prompts
Does your kid express an interest in writing only to freeze when they actually try to write? Writing prompts could help your child overcome it.
Writing prompts can be found in many places. Look for interesting signs, funny pictures in advertisements, or even just asking “what if” and “why” questions. You could even play a song to inspire ideas and writing.
The idea is not to make them write about something, but to give them enough of an idea to push past the fear of getting started. Once kids get past the first few sentences and are “in” their story, their ideas will come to the surface.
5. Encourage Journaling
Journaling is a great way to encourage creative writing. It gives them a concrete way to see their “progress” writing.
A handful of kids’ journals often come preloaded with prompts and ideas, which helps kids get started. It also helps that journaling is usually a daily activity. By having smaller, but more frequent, writing sessions, it helps children develop a perspective on what writing can be.
Journaling also helps build emotional intelligence. By writing about their feelings, children work through their thoughts and emotions and are better able to recognize and accept them. It gives them the opportunity to talk about difficult things without embarrassment, advice, or recrimination.
6. Use “Feeling” Words
Another benefit of building creative writing skills is children learn to use powerful words to draw in their readers.
You can encourage this development by helping them give their character’s feelings. When writers allow their characters to feel, they make them more relatable and interesting. But since the feelings of the characters don’t necessarily come to mind for kids, direct suggestion may help.
Help them get there by asking questions about the characters. Why was the hero doing that? What was she thinking? How was she feeling?
7. Practice Storytelling
The reason why many creative writers write is their love of story. To help your child build creative writing skills, foster that love.
The key is to focus on telling a great story, not the writing. Let your child’s imagination run free as he piece together details that can complete a tale.
You can build stories together, with each person telling a few lines of the story before passing it along to the next. Or you can “get stuck” telling your story and need their help figuring out what happens next.
Whatever twists and turns in the plot happen are magical because it shows your child is learning they are driving the story. They get to create.
8. Play Games
A robust vocabulary is another important creative writing skill. To help your child build their vocabulary, try playing word games.
Word games are great because they put the emphasis on the game, not the vocabulary learning. The competitive aspect increases their intrinsic motivation to learn the words. The games themselves are great family activities.
If your child isn’t competitive, there are plenty of team-oriented options. You could also try magnetic poetry, other game-like world builders, or even a cool journal for kids where they write down fun words they’ve heard.
9. Provide Inspiration
The best inspiration for kids to write comes from loving the work of other writers. When your child has a book or series they love, keep it going! Encouraging their love of reading – and their love of story – will help them internalize the way their favorite authors write.
Reading to your children helps too. Because you can read higher-level books while your child listens, it allows them to focus on the story. It also gives you a chance to have conversations about meaning, characters, and plot.
As children read, they build vocabulary and understanding of how good stories develop. They will eventually be able to incorporate these ideas into their creative writing.
Creative writing is sometimes seen as a hobby- something to enjoy, but not to be taken too seriously. But building creative writing skills positively impacts children because they learn to express themselves, they practice writing about emotions, and they practice making their writing compelling to their readers.
Whichever strategies you use to help your child improve their creative writing styles, make sure you keep it light-hearted. When it is fun, they’ll want to keep trying, and that’s where the growth happens.
About the Author:
Alexandra Eidens is the founder of Big Life Journal, an engaging resource to help kids develop a resilient growth mindset so they can face life’s challenges with confidence.