It seems impossible that your once tiny, crawling, diaper-clad baby is now learning to write. But here we are! The best gift you can give your young writer is your support. Helping young writers develop their skills, and encouraging them to keep writing, is key.
Out of all the milestones, learning to write is one that will take quite a while to develop. It’s not like using a spoon or learning to walk where once a skill is mastered you are good to go. Becoming a writer is a process that begins with writing their own name and ends in a college thesis. Or in the case of some (ahem, me) learning to be a better writer is forever ongoing. This may all sound a little abstract, but it should not be daunting. The goal is for your child to develop a healthy relationship to writing, which is something we can encourage from an early age.
If your child has begun their writing journey, here are a few ways you can help cultivate their writing relationship.
5 Ways to Support Young Writers
- Keep it practical. If your young writer is just getting comfortable with their letters, you can begin by getting them involved in day to day writing tasks. Things like writing a grocery list, writing out a recipe, or a thank you card. Not only is this good practice, it demonstrates the real life value of writing. It puts writing into a relatable context and gives them a chance to show off a new skill.
- Write snail mail. There is nothing like getting a letter in the mail, but also nothing like sending one. Sometimes homework or writing exercises can seem pointless or uninspired. Having a letter correspondence is a great way to show how writing is used to communicate and bring people together. Even the ritual of writing the address, and putting it in the mail makes it special. Getting a response back from a written letter is the perfect kind of reward for a developing writer. This is also a great way to get grandparents or distant relations not so distant.
- Start a journal. I love journaling for so many reasons. The first is that it is great, low stakes writing practice. Making journaling a part of your day or week, integrates writing into their routine. There are no rules around journaling which can be really liberating for kids starting out. No deadlines, minimum or maximum, and spelling errors are not a problem. Journaling is also wonderful as kids work out thoughts and emotions in a safe place. The fact that your child can have the record of their thoughts and days for years to come is an extra bonus.
- Make it creative. I’m talking poetry, comics, short stories, anything you can write that comes from your imagination. Work on a writing project together, or start out with some prompts. When a child is engaged in what they are doing they are more open to absorbing new information and learning.
- Join a community of writers. Writing and sharing with other young writers is a supportive and fun way to make writing enjoyable. It’s always fun to share your work with others. Having a social element to writing means you can learn from one another and lean into the pleasure of it. Try a creative writing class or the many online resources available for young writers looking to connect.
Gifts for Young Writers
If you are looking for some gifts ideas this season to help support and inspire your young writer, here are a few ideas:
- Stationary. Perfect for letter writing to Santa, and showing gratitude by writing thank you notes to friends and family.
- Cool notebook and pens. Literally what every writer needs. Besides, nothing beats that fresh notebook/pen feel!
- Diary with a lock. This brings an added element of specialness. Kids will be so excited to write in something that feels just for them.
- A writing class. Whether remote or in person, writing classes are a fun way to spark some creative energy into your child’s solo efforts.
However you decide to support your young writer, keeping it joyful, social, and practical is always a good place to start. I know writing is something we all come to learn. But it is also a great pleasure as well as a tremendous skill. Be creative, have fun, and whatever you do, don’t stop writing!
Olivia Mardwig is a mother, writer, and educator from NYC. For upcoming kids book clubs and creative writing classes you can follow her on @writewitholivia or email [email protected]. And if you would like to sign up FOR THE LOVE OF WORDS and receive weekly reading and writing resources for young learners 7 to 13, you can subscribe at oliviamardwig.substack.com
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