Monday, June 3, 2013

How to Help Your Child Write Creatively

Sandi Queen is a homeschooling mom who created her own homeschool curriculum.  Her five older children are award-winning authors and her youngest, (age 11), is currently writing his first book.  Sandi has written over 300 books.

She spoke at a seminar at the C.H.A.P. Homeschool Convention about helping your children with their creative writing.

She strongly suggests that children at the pre-reading level should be read to.  Read aloud to children.  Read living books and expose them to interesting stories of many different types.

I strongly suggest this as well.  I have done this with all three of our boys and though they all can now read on their own, they still love to have me read aloud because I always change my voice for different characters to make it more interesting and fun.  This is the first step to creating a love for reading in your children.

Next, Sandi suggested teaching them narration through picture study.  Show them a picture and let them tell you about it.  She uses beautiful pictures.  She has created her own books for this and also sells them to homeschoolers.  She encourages parents to encourage their children if they struggle with their description.  She suggests that you ask them questions to prompt them to pay attention to the details to help them build a story from the photo.  For example, if you are looking at a photo of a little girl with a basket of flowers, you can ask them questions like:  "What is the little girl carrying?" "How is the little girl dressed?"  "What do you think she's going to do with the flowers?"  "Where do you think she is going?"  "What season of the year is it?"  and so on.  This will help them learn how to build a story that will give their readers an accurate mental picture.

Sandi also suggests times where you allow your child, especially in their early writing attempts, to "Free Write".  This should be something that is short, fun, and non-threatening; something that will not be corrected.  Things like writing a description of their favorite meal, list of favorite activities, games, etc.  Create a list of words that begin with a certain letter, a list of color words, season words, etc.  Create a list of words that mean old, sweet, cold, etc.  Ask them to write about what it's like to be a horse, a shoe, a doughnut, etc.  These activities will encourage their creativity and build their confidence.

Once your child is confident and doing well and has the right idea with free writing, you can ask them to write a letter or a card.  When they are finished, look it over and tell them they did a good job, suggest sending a copy to the friend or family member and then say, "Let's go over it and be sure the spelling, grammar and punctuation is correct so that he/she will be able to fully understand clearly what you're trying to say."

Once a child understands and is confident and comfortable with their writing, they need to understand that writing needs to be expressive, descriptive and detailed enough to create an accurate mental picture, and writing needs to be correctly executed.  However, you want the child to be comfortable and confident with writing before stressing all of the technicalities or you can cause them to dislike writing.

I purchased one of Sandi's photo narrative books for our youngest, and as a writer myself, certainly agree with and appreciate Sandi's suggestions for teaching creative writing to our children because I have had a love of writing for a long time and it came from encouragement that I received from my school teachers.  However, my parents did not do their part to also encourage me in my writing, and a comment they made to me when I shared my dream of becoming a published author deeply hurt and caused me to cast my writing aside for many years.  I have just recently decided to work toward my dream of becoming a published author again because my oldest son said something to me that truly boosted my self-confidence in my writing. He is a talented writer and he said to me, "Mom, God gives us talents, but you taught me how to use that talent, so if I am a talented writer, a lot of it is due to your teaching, so you obviously have writing talent too."

You can find Sandi's homeschool curriculum at:

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