If you want your child to enjoy writing, it helps to make writing a natural, observable and shared part of family life. Make writing a regular short daily family activity, not a chore, from before kids start school. Just as we need a daily read aloud time, so we should have a daily writing time. Kids learn so much from seeing their parents do all sorts of different writing – from shopping lists to notes for a friend.
Consider ‘thinking aloud’ about your own writing, so kids can hear your writing process. Let them see/hear what you do when you’re not sure of how to write a word. Sharing the way you change your mind, switch words, start again, play with words, add salutations to a letter – all these processes will be great models for children’s own writing.
Make writing a ‘have a go’ time. Writing doesn’t need to be correct spelling or letter formation. Encourage kids to scribble, write, draw or dictate what they want to say.
Explore different ways to write. Consider getting cute books or stationery, interesting pens and pencils, even chalk and paint. Kids can have fun writing with coloured water and an adult paintbrush on walls or footpaths. For something different, suggest they ‘write’ with letter blocks or magnet letters.
Don’t forget digital writing! Creating a story and picture is fun on a phone or tablet. Check out the word-processing programs on your computer and share them with your kids. Suggest kids add captions to interesting images, or play with online comic editors and apps. (Check out my free PDF, Using Comic Editors with Kids.)
Link writing with reading. When you’ve finished reading a book aloud, take a few moments to look at what the author did, or notice some interesting words in a story. Kids might like to keep a record of books you’ve shared, or write a list of their favourite books. They might even be inspired to write a similar story of their own, using one book as a model.
If older kids want to write, but are stuck for an idea, encourage them to look for a great photo as inspiration. Author Sandy Fussell wrote an article about this at The Book Chook, Becoming a Story Detective.
Making writing enjoyable means being alert to any opportunity for your kids to write. Do they like to win prizes? Perhaps a writing contest might motivate them. Have they just invented a great paper aeroplane? Suggest they write messages to you or their friends, and send them “airmail”, the way Joyce Grant and her son did. Maybe today is a perfect time for writing teeny tiny letters to a fairy and posting them in a gum nut or acorn cup. Adding any of these activities to everyday family life helps writing become both a habit and a pleasure for kids.