“Describe your best friend.” “Write about your favorite holiday.” “What do you want to be when you grow up? Why?”
While kids may have to respond to writing prompts like these at some point during their academic career, there are ways you can make writing more fun and purposeful at home to give kids an opportunity to further develop this important life skill. The key is to make it authentic — give them a real reason to write and they will be more likely to do it. Here are a few!
Have your kids be the official “reviewers” for the family. After going out to eat, staying at a hotel, or visiting a new attraction, have them write about their experience on websites like Yelp or TripAdvisor (depending on their age, they may have to do it through your account).
Start a Blog
Sooner or later, kids will need to learn about publishing their work online, whether it be through social media posts, comments, or on a website. A blog can be a safe entryway into this space. You can set kids up with a blog from a free blogging site and they can share the link with trusted friends and/or family members. You’ll want to monitor the content they post and the comments they receive, but this can be a fun way for kids to share their writing with others.
Another option here is to start a family blog, with each sibling (or cousins, if you want to involve your extended family) having editing/posting access and each child being responsible for writing one post per week. My cousins and I did this when we were younger and it was a great way for us to keep in touch between family visits.
Although people rarely send letters, anymore, there is something thrilling about sorting through your snail mail and finding something more than the usual bills and coupons. Imagine this excitement from a kids’ perspective — it can be pretty motivating! Here are some ideas for some good old-fashioned letter-writing:
- Letters to companies to describe how much they like (or don’t like!) a certain toy or product
- Letters to grandparents or other adults in the family to tell them about their summer plans or favorite movie (Bonus: Grandparents will almost always write back!)
- After learning about a certain topic (e.g., trees), letters to a related nonprofit organization (e.g., Arbor Day Foundation) about what they learned
- Letters to a local elected official about an issue in the neighborhood
- Letters to corporations persuading them to do (or not do) something (e.g., a letter to a grocery store discussing the elimination of plastic bags)
- Thank-you letters for a kind gesture or for gifts that were received
Create a Book
With the help of a digital camera and a photobook website, even the youngest kids can be authors. Kids can write a fictional story, write about their summer vacation, or even author a cookbook for their favorite snacks. Here are more fun photobook ideas you can explore.
Publish Their Piece
How amazing would it be for your child (or anyone, for that matter!) to see their writing published on a website or in a magazine? Believe it or not, there are some that are dedicated entirely to publishing pieces authored by young writers. Here are two sites to get you started:
Make a List
For younger or more reticent writers, start with something simple, like lists. Have them make a list of groceries to buy, things they saw at the park, places they want to visit, or who to invite to their birthday party. Then, move on to more complex lists, such as their goals for the school year or three things they are thankful for today.
Hopefully some of these ideas will get your kids to pick up their pencil (or keyboard!) and start writing!