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READ WRITE INSPIRE. Welcome to my Words, a place devoted to making Reading and Writing for children more Inspired.

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Getting Kids to Write

As part of the recent Reading Roadshow held by Marj Osborne at Aquinas College this month, I was honoured to be invited to speak about GETTING KIDS TO WRITE. My audience of primary and senior teachers and librarians were a delightful group keen to fine tune and learn ways to engage their charges in every aspect of literacy. Here is the condensed version in case you wish to enhance your child's literacy or have a child who is eager to write but not sure where to begin.

Why should we get kids to write?

Because stories connect us and help define who we really are. When we tell our stories, we share part of ourselves. It's vital to foster storytelling and writing  in kids so that they become better at it, for enjoyment and for life.

“But words are things, and a small drop of ink,
Falling, like dew, upon a thought, produces
That which makes thousands, perhaps millions, think

Lord Byron

We tend to learn less by reading alone than by reading and writing combined. Studies show that a mere 10% of what we read is retained after a period of three days compared to 30 % of what we see and 50% of what we see and hear. If, however we 'practise what we preach' in other words, say as we do, than a whopping 90% more is retained. This illustrates the concept of Active vs. Passive Learning and indicates that writing can lead to an increased enjoyment of reading. In short: getting kids to write more will encourage their propensity to read more which ultimately ensures my survival as a children's author. So...

How do we get kids to write?

- Give them a reason to write. Make it fun and rewarding. As with beginner readers, first attempts need not be word perfect. Focus less on being correct and more on building confidence to improve and learn.

- Provide experiences, reasons, guidance and stimuli to encourage them to put pen to paper.

- Equip them with the basic skills and techniques to ensure their writing experiences will be more worthwhile and positive.

- Highlight the 5 Elements of Good Writing: 5 Ws Who (characters), What (story arc-structure), When (point of view), Where, (setting) and Why (theme-purpose of writing)

Here are some ideas you can try at home or at school that will make writing as natural as reading for kids.

There is a web full of fantastic, kid friendly, pro writing sites, which encourage youngsters to write, enter comps, submit their work for publication and learn useful tips and techniques from people in the industry. See my Kool Kidz Stuff page for some of my favourites.

By encouraging kids to write, we are contributing to their communication skills and helping them along the road to continued reading. Try some of these tips at today to entice kids to write more and above all, enjoy it.