MADE is a paid partnership with Little Lake County.
Welcome to MADE in Lake County! MADE introduces you to the people and stories behind local Lake County businesses. You’ve recently met local author (and Little Lake County writer) Natalie Rompella. Today Natalie is sharing her experience as a writer and a teacher to help you encourage and assist your children with their writing.
I love to write. I write seven days a week. When I don’t have an assigned project, I write for fun. However, I know this isn’t true for everyone…after all, I was a teacher. I have witnessed how painful writing is for some kids.
So how do we help children who don’t like to write? Using what I’ve learned as a published children’s author, a parent, and a former teacher, I have 10 tips to help motivate your child to write.
Tips for Helping Your Child with Writing
1. Write something together. Lots of kids struggle with generating ideas. Brainstorming with your child helps to get him thinking outside the box. Try writing something just for fun, such as a silly poem, a letter to Grandma, or a comic book.
2. Invest in fun, quality writing supplies. It sounds silly, but it can make a big difference. I find that some pens don’t flow that well, which slows me down. Other pens don’t feel comfortable in my grip. And, personally, I find some inks look more aesthetically pleasing on the page than others. Treat your child to a writing utensil of her choice. Or at least check that her pencil is sharpened and has a good eraser.
3. Figure out your child’s “favorite” style of writing. Does he like writing scary stories or know tons of facts about animals? Maybe he despises writing nonfiction pieces for school but would enjoy creating his own magazine. When you discover a favorite style of writing, encourage him to write in that style whenever possible.
4. Give your child books written in her favorite style. If she likes fantasy, pick up some fantasy books at the library. If writing a magazine sounds good, get some high-interest ones to look through. Peruse the nonfiction section. There are tons of fun nonfiction books with lots of facts and shorter chunks of text. You can even ask the librarian for help choosing a book.
Encourage your child to try writing on a similar topic or to use the characters from her favorite fiction book. My son enjoys “rewriting” Captain Underpants books.
5. Find out what part of the writing process is a challenge. Perhaps your child struggles with reading, spelling, grammar rules, or letter formation. If that’s the case, he might actually like writing but be bogged down with logistics. Try having your child dictate ideas to you. There are even dictation programs available now for tablets and computers. Stress that spelling and grammar aren’t the focus for first drafts. These things can be fixed later.
6. Break down the writing assignment. Sometimes I just don’t feel like writing, but I have a deadline. I break down the assignment into tiny chunks: Just write one more sentence before you go make dinner. Edit two pages, and then you’re done for the night. This can be especially helpful if the writing assignment is a long one.
7. Give a journal as a gift. Having a place to write ideas that no one else will see can be freeing. Look for journals that offer fun prompts and places to sketch or doodle. These may be less pressure than a blank book.
8. If I asked you to write about something fun you did, you might struggle with the details. But if I asked you to do something fun and then write about it, you probably would write a stronger piece. If you can, take your child somewhere related to what he’s writing. A trip to the zoo for an animal report. Writing a biography? Watch a movie about the person. It’s amazing how a real-life experience can help generate great word choices for your child’s piece.
9. Time and location can be everything. As an author, sometimes I just can’t get inspired. Instead of sitting at my desk, I go do something else, such as go for a run. I often become newly inspired when I’m doing something fun. If your child is stuck on a writing assignment, allow her to put it to the side and do another activity for a while. When all else fails, set up shop somewhere interesting, such as a coffeehouse. Hot chocolate can work wonders.
10. Celebrate little successes. If your child draws a picture and writes a few words, that is great! Encourage and celebrate that accomplishment. Maybe next time he’ll write a bit more. It’s important not to pressure your child. However, after listening to what he wrote, you can ask follow-up questions. “So you said penguins live in Antarctica? I wonder what other animals live there…” It’s possible he’ll decide to add a word or two to his piece.
Writing doesn’t have to be daunting. Look for ways to make it more enjoyable.
What tips do you have for making writing fun?
Natalie’s newest book Cookie Cutters & Sled Runners is now available. In addition to being a busy mom, author and contributor to Little Lake County, Natalie is available for classroom presentations and school workshops. She offers multiple program options for different age groups, including writing workshops or interactive educational presentation on bugs.
Disclosure: Natalie Rompella, Author is our featured Business of the Month. This series is part of a paid promotion partnership with Little Lake County. If you are interested in featuring your locally-owned business in our series, please contact the sales team.