Teaching has only brought me one heartbreak: kids don’t love to write.
Growing up, I spent all of my writing workshop time making little books. I’d make up stories about my friends, about made-up characters, and anything else I could imagine. I made up poetry. I started keeping a diary. My desk drawers, in my bedroom, were filled with little books and stories.
As I got older, I developed four characters who were in all of my stories. I would write chapters, ongoing. Through these characters I had adventures I otherwise would not experience; I explored facets of my personality that I normally kept hidden. My friends and I would share our writing at lunch, and when we got together.
In high school, it became work, more expository. However, I greatly enjoyed my rhetoric class. Here, I gained concrete devices to help convey my emotions, my passions, my heart…and to draw the reader in as well.
In college, in a creative writing class, I rediscovered myself when I kept a journal. My professor told me that I made everyday experiences interesting, and that I should write a book of essays about my life. The book of essays hasn’t happened, but I did find a creative outlet…
So, back to my current students. In the beginning, it is always like pulling teeth, to get them to write anything. We work with them, and restore much of the love. As parents, though, we can go a lot to instil of love of writing in our children. Here are some suggestions:
–Let them see you write. It can be with pencil and paper, or typing. They just need to see you doing it and enjoying it. Go ahead, write that mystery, or romance novel. My father-in-law journals, then shares them with the family. If they see you doing it, it won’t be drudgery.
–Write a story just for them!
–Write a letter to grandma, with them. Make sure grandma is in on this, and will write back.
–Write some fanfiction together. If they have a favorite cartoon, book, or movie, work together to write stories involving the characters.
–Write poetry together. Poetry is great for reluctant writers. It need not rhyme! Read some e.e.cummings, then try to emulate it. William Carlos Williams is another great poet to emulate. Kids also love to write acrostic poems.
–Make a little book together.
Remember, anyone can be taught to write a 5 paragraph essay. What you can offer your child, by instilling a love for the craft, is worth so much more.