A recent survey for the National Literary Trust reported in 2015 only one in five children wrote outside school, a drop of 7% from 2014’s 27.2%. The type of writing children were likely to engage in usually involved the use of technology, such as texting and social media comments.
These are worrying trends as we know children who write outside school daily are five times more likely to have writing skills above their age group, and children who enjoyed writing were seven times more likely to have advanced writing skills.
So how can we encourage a regular writing habit to give our children that competitive advantage? Here are my five suggestions, remember the idea is to encourage your child to enjoy writing so do not go over what they have written and make corrections to their spelling, just let them enjoy the process:
- Daily Gratitude: encourage your child to write down three things they are grateful for each day. It can be as simple of having their favourite pudding or they made a new friend. The practice of daily gratitude is not only an opportunity to write, it also allows time to reflect on their day and has been shown to promote positive mental health, so we should all be doing it. They don’t need to write a long essay, a sticky note will do.
- Write a Journal: this again doesn’t have to be War and Peace, it can include drawings, cut out pictures or your child’s daily gratitude. It’s a way of then reflecting on their day so they can use scores out of ten for how happy the day made them feel, or the best thing that happened, and so on.
- Write lists: get your child to write out lists for things they need to do, presents they want for their birthday, places they want to visit, ingredients for a recipe, a shopping list. These are short and punchy and relevant so you are less likely to encounter any resistance from your child.
- Create a time capsule: encourage your child to chronicle their current life over the course of a month by writing short pieces about what they like to do, who their friends are, where they have travelled to etc. Place these written pieces, along with objects which help tell their story into an old shoebox and file it away somewhere for 1 year. Encourage everyone in your family to do this and then share each other’s boxes one year later.
- Write a comic/book/magazine: encourage your child to create their own book, magazine, or comic using a scrap book. They can then stick pictures in or illustrate it themselves with drawings. They can then share their work with the rest of the family when they are done.
Remember what’s key here is your child enjoys the process rather than seeing writing as chore. Children learn best from what they see so think about ways you too can show a love of writing so they see it isn’t something which is just confined to the classroom.