8 Ways to Raise a Writer

Most kids love to read, but many struggle when they try to put their own words on paper. How can you help your children get over their anxieties about writing?

By Alice Wilder, Ph.D.

Tips for helping your kids put pen to paper (or hands to keyboard)

Girl at ComputerAlice Wilder, Ph.D., is the founder of Think It Ink It Publishing, a line of wordless picture books in which children write their own stories. She is also a director of research and development and producer for children’s television (Super Why!, Blues Clues). Here are her tips on how to help your child become a more enthusiastic writer.

Read, read, read. Children (and adults) who do a great deal of reading become better writers. Exposure to books helps develop vocabulary, sentence structure and basic story outline. Let your children see you read and write. Ultimately they want to be like you.Be the role model you want them to be.

Avoid “right or wrong” answers. Let your children’s imagination and creativity be the starting point for their writing. Anything goes. Listen to their voice and provide positive feedback for the way that they want to express themselves.

Use writing in your everyday life. Writing is useful, and we need to show just how useful it can be. Write notes to your kids, keep a journal with your kids, write letters with your kids (thank you, congratulations, thinking of you).

Tell stories to your children. Children love to hear their parents tell stories, real or imagined. Stories help children develop their own imaginations and inspire a love of creativity.

Encourage creativity. In play and during the course of everyday life, using imagination spurs vision and inventiveness. You can make up stories while in the car looking at the cityscape or while you’re eating lunch at the mall.

Practice makes perfect. The more children write, the better they will be at it. While it’s unrealistic and excessive to assign too many writing projects, encouraging a child to write a story or dictate a story and watch you write it will help in the long run.

Don’t discourage. (And be on the lookout for adults or teachers who do.) When making corrections, in conversation or on paper, be positive and encouraging.

Negativity is a turn-off and will create a dislike for reading and writing that may stay with your child.

Make use of the library and bookstores. These outlets have wonderful programs for children, engaging them and helping them to associate reading and writing with fun. And when other kids are around, children are most apt to participate and want to return. There are also great web programs that can help your child with writing skills - do a quick Google search. 

Updated August 2012