Every semester I lead a series of writing workshops for adults and children, and every semester we begin by setting intentions for our writing practice. No matter how much we love to write, we have to check in with ourselves to make sure we’re actually writing. Life can get busy and it’s easy to forget or neglect the things we love and need.
When I think about encouraging my children to write, I hope they learn what a powerful tool writing (especially writing from the heart) can be. Crafting their voice, finding their words, tapping into the creativity that lives within us all, that’s what I hope to nurture.
This semester is no different. In a workshop or writing at home, we’ll make sure writing for the sake of writing is a part of our day.
How to Create a Writing Practice
Writers learn to write by writing. Our children need time to play with words and flesh out their ideas. Editing will come later. First, we need to learn how to silence our inner critics and that only comes with practice.
Before you begin- Writing with your children is one of the best ways to encourage their writing. When they see you find meaning in what you want them to do, they’ll be more likely to trust it’s important.
I like to begin my day writing and my intention is to write every day, but my children are not eager to jump into writing first thing. We’ve had to play around with what time works best. Mid-morning seems to be our sweet spot. Breakfast and a little time outside need to happen first. They need food and movement before they can and want to sit quietly. We write together a few times a week. The older they get the more our time and frequency increases. I recommend starting with one day a week and working your way up to more.
2. Gather Supplies
Special pens, journals, and notecards can help create a creative space. Maybe put together a writing basket so you always have everything you need.
3. Writing Prompts
In my writing circles, we begin with a poem. In my classroom, I always had a few writing prompts on the board. Sometimes our muses need a little tap. Your kids can create their own writing prompts or a Writing Territories List to keep on hand for inspiration.
4. Make This Time Special
Make hot chocolate or tea, put pillows on the floor, gather cozy blankets, turn on lamps or twinkle lights, light candles. Let kids spread out, get cozy and comfortable.
5. Anything Goes
Remind kids they can write about anything and in any form they want. No rules. Just write.
6. Editing Comes Later
This isn’t the time to worry about spelling or grammar. Letting go of editing might be hard for some kids, especially if they are used to trying to get everything right the first time. Gently remind them this is time to just get their ideas on the page.
7. Invite Quiet
Before you begin, remind kids that when people talk or are loud, a writer can lose their ideas or focus. We don’t want to take writers out of their story. This is another reason why it’s important kids don’t worry about spelling. If they are continuously asking how to spell a word, no one is going to be able to focus.
8. Repeat Often
If your kids sit quietly and write for five minutes, you’re off to a great start. Over time and with practice, their attention spans and ideas will want more and more time.
If you’re looking for ways to teach your children how to write, help them create a writing practice. The more they nurture their voice and craft their ideas, the more fun, and satisfying writing will be. Simply write. It’s one of the best ways to teach writing.Local to Indiana? Registration is open for our Winter, Spring, and Summer Workshops!