Growing a Writer

A toddler girl writing at her desk

It's never too early to encourage your child to begin a lifelong pattern of written communication.

Writing is not only a practical skill that all children need to master to succeed in school, but it's also an amazing way to express feelings and creativity.

Here are some ways to encourage your child's writing.

  • Write notes to your child and leave them in her lunch box or on the refrigerator. Children as young as 2 or 3 years old like getting notes especially for them. Pictures are fine if your child doesn't read words yet.
  • Place a marker board in your child's room at his height. Then, leave regular notes (words or pictures) and encourage your child to respond.
  • Give your child a journal and encourage daily entries (scribbles or pictures). Better yet, get an identical journal to write in yourself and then you can share your thoughts together.
  • Begin with, "Once upon a time...," "A perfect day would be...," or another open-ended phrase and ask your child to fill in the rest of the story. If your child is too young to write, she can tell you the story orally so you can write it down and have her add illustrations. When you're finished, read the story out loud together and then put your new "book" in the bookcase for future reading. This activity can also be done with multiple children where each child takes turns filling in the next sentence of the story.
  • School-aged children can play reporter and write a story about a recent family event, making sure to include the 5 Ws (Who, What, Where, Why, and When).
  • Have your child write letters or postcards (words or pictures) to send to family members far away or even across town.
  • Have your child make your grocery list or a menu for dinner. If he is too young to write, you make the list or menu, tell him what it says, and ask your child to draw a picture for each word.

Your local library and bookstore are filled with books for and/or about kids learning to write:

  • "The Magic Pencil: Teaching Children Creative Writing: Exercises and Activities for Children, Their Parents, and Their Teachers" by Eve Shelnutt.
  • "99 Ways to Get Kids to Love Writing: And 10 Easy Tips for Teaching Them Grammar" by Mary Leonhardt.
  • "Real-Life Writing Activities Based on Favorite Picture Books: Super-Fun Activities and Reproducibles That Use Picture Books As Models to Help Kids Practice 11 Kinds of Real-Life Writing" by Gloria Rothstein.
  • "Mad Libs Junior!" book series by various authors.

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Written by: Bright Horizons Education Team

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