Unless your child has been bitten by the writing bug and genuinely wants to write stories and letters for fun, it’s hard to get most children to write.
When kids have free time, their knee-jerk instinct often is to grab a remote control, an iPad, or tablet.
How can parents get kids to want to write in their free time? Is it even possible? Sure it is.
Here are three cool, clever, and authentic ways to get kids to write—and to want to write—in their free time:
1. Find a penpal!
Though there are dozens of services online that claim to connect your child with a penpal, I think the easiest way is to ask your friends for recommendations.
Make finding a penpal for your child a priority for one full month, and ask on your own social networks each week, at different times of the day, on different days. Tag your teacher friends, your friends with children, and your friends who travel.
Send an email to all of your contacts asking for a recommendation, and even consider asking your child’s school counselor for help. Your contacts within the school building may be able to connect with other school employees within the district or even outside of the district to help you locate a great match.
2. Enter writing contests!
When a cash prize, a gift certificate, or a trophy is an incentive, it’s hard not to get excited about writing! Tons of writing contests exist for children of all ages, and once you put writing contests on your radar, you will be surprised at how many you find.
Look in your local newspaper, or contact your local library for writing contests and events. Ask your child’s teacher for writing contests or events because teachers are often inundated with these opportunities.
Even searching online for children’s writing contests is a great way of finding ways for your child to write for a larger audience and even bring home some exciting prizes.
3. Do some "shared" writing!
"Shared" writing is just that: writing that is shared among several authors.
Children can make shared writing as simple as passing a spiral notebook back and forth among friends, each taking a turn to write a portion of a story, or it can be as involved as sending the notebook back and forth through the mail to cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, or camp buddies.
For easier shared online writing, it may be worth checking out some of the free sites that exist; these sites make it easy to share their work. Story Bird or Story Jumper are two free sites that allow writers to create and share their original work. Story Bird starts with an image as inspiration, and Story Jumper provides clip art for writers to use to illustrate their work. Both are worth checking out.
Readwritethink.org’s interactive Printing Press gives young writers the chance to create newspapers, brochures, or flyers, and kids love using it for just about any reason. Scholastic’s Story Starters is a fun and clever way of giving kids "story starter" ideas that they can then write and share.
How do you get kids to write? What other cool and creative ideas do you have to get kids writing? Let us know!