Tips for Encouraging Children to Write

Tips for Encouraging Children to Write

By Deborah Shelton

Want to encourage your child's love of writing? Or inspire one who would rather do anything but write? The answer may be as simple as finding the right pen. Just as your child may have had a security blanket or an impossibly dirty teddy bear that she refused to let you kidnap to the dark recesses of the washing machine, she may need a special writing tool that's all her own.

This doesn't mean that you need to run out and buy a "special" $500 Mont Blanc fountain pen. Perhaps a pen with a case in her signature color would work. Maybe the ink needs to be just the right shade of purple. Take your little one on a stroll through the pen section of an art supply or stationery store and let her choose. Seeing such a wide array of writing supplies may spur interest on its own.

Once you have tracked down a favorite pen, try to do as many creative things as you can think of to get your child to use it.

1. Everyday Writing: Use everyday situations to help children practice their writing. For example, the next time you write a grocery list, have your child sit next to you and write a list of her favorite foods. Whenever you write thank-you notes, your child can write a miss-you letter to Grandma and Grandpa. Time to pay bills? Have your little one write about a recent dream while you write checks.

2. Ghost Messaging: Dip a cotton swab into a small container of lemon juice. Use the swab to write a message on a sheet of construction paper. When you're finished, set the paper in direct sunlight and wait for the message to ghostly appear. It's creepy and fun!

3. Hometown Reporter: Read through a newspaper together to get an idea of the kinds of stories journalists write about, and how they word headlines. Encourage your child to write his own articles: investigative, human interest, community events, celebrity profile, etc. "Publish" the article in a word processing program and send copies to friends and family. If the article is of mass interest, send it to the local newspaper!

4. Sidewalk Chalk: Give your little ones the power to express themselves and have a ton of fun at the same time. Use sidewalk chalk to write poems, jokes and short stories on the driveway.

5. Letter Puzzles: This project is fun for the writer and the reader! First, write a letter to someone on a sheet of paper. When you're finished, use a pair of scissors to cut the note into interlocking puzzle pieces. Place the pieces into an envelope and mail or hand-deliver it. The recipient must assemble the puzzle in order to read the letter!

6. Dear Editor: Encourage your children to voice their thoughts and opinions publicly by writing letters to the editors of children's magazines, local newspapers and even radio stations! Keep a scrapbook of all published clips, or frame them as a constant reminder of their writing accomplishments.

About the Author:

Deborah Shelton is the author of The Five Minute Parent: Fun & Fast Activities for You and Your Little Ones. Visit The Five Minute Parent for fun rainy-day activities, family links, and a free email newsletter filled with craft ideas, guest articles, contests and so much more!

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American Girls Family Album

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Messages in the Mailbox: How to Write a Letter

Teach your children the art of letter writing!


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