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Children who LOVE to write

I was a child who loved to write. I made up hundreds of stories in my head, and some of them actually made it down on paper. I loved pens, pencils, journals, notebooks. When I was about 10 a friend showed me how to do joined up writing and I was HOOKED! I was, and am a writer - enjoying both the story-telling side of it, AND the artistic formation of letters and words. They are two separate things, and we need to remember that when teaching children.

And then I had two little boys who HATED writing. The act of holding a pen or pencil tired them, copywork was HARD, thinking of things to write was EXHAUSTING.*

BUT THEN along came my daughter - she scribbled on things, she 'wrote' before she could spell or read!! And now suddenly (it seems VERY sudden) she is 16 years old and still in love with writing - both the story-telling, and the artistic side of it.

After my daughter came a swag of little boys, none of whom have, to date, shown any interest in writing, or lettering.

So on this lovely topic my daughter and I have come up with some notes on HOW ONE CAN ENCOURAGE and PROVIDE for:


Keep them supplied with:

- a LARGE range of decent but not necessarily expensive pens - biros, pencils, coloured pencils, gel pens, metallic pens etc

- nice writing paper and cool notebooks - once again, not necessarily expensive but don't give them shabby supplies

- A TON of forms for them to fill in - made by you or try to find some decent forms in magazines, online etc (but that can be hard) - have areas to write their information, and also tick boxes

- a clipboard and paper to write/take notes during trips out

- a box to keep journals and notebooks in when they have been finished with

- sets of little drawers to keep their supplies in - the clear plastic ones are fine, and you can always see which drawer holds which supplies.

- and I would have to add here - give your child permission to use multiple notebooks/journals at one time if that helps their creativity. How STIFLING to have someone look over your shoulder and say "You're not having a new notebook - you still have three pages left to complete in this one!" (I still hear that in my head even now ...)

Children who love writing stories/journals/diaires/keeping files on people etc, may also like to type. You might like to suggest this to them. Supply them with an old portable electronic typewriter (with a little screen) - ensure you can still get ribbons for it, or free access to the family computer and printer (or their own if budget allows).

Find a typing programme they enjoy, and if they are passionate about this they will take off very quickly. I taught myself to type at about 11 years old on a portable manual typewriter using the same book that the schools used (my mum bought me a copy). For my children I've chosen an unusual method for them to learn touch-typing - Zoom Type, by Renee Ellison.

We purchased an old Acer Aspire One notebook for our daughter (she chose blue, mine that I've written two books on is pink and I still love it!) - it was 2nd hand, not overly expensive, but with a good battery, and she took it everywhere to type on. It doesn't connect to the internet, so is just used for typing and storing photos etc. These are rather antique nowdays, but you might be able to find a bit more modern that does the same thing if your child would love this.

Your child may love to write lists. Encourage this by suggesting things to write down: to-do lists, people's birthdays, food in the pantry with certain ingredients (my daughter went through the pantry once and wrote all the products with sugar in them, and how many grams of sugar per 100g of product), fun projects, things the child would like to buy or make.

Writing doesn't always have to be about a "subject" that is chosen FOR the child - as in "schoolwork". My daughter went through a lot of phases where she would write pages and pages on things that had grabbed her interest at that time (yay for phases!). Some of those phases were scam emails, rescuing animals, civil defense, egyptian history, training dogs, firearms, essential oils etc.

My daughter would really like to share that she liked to have her OWN space to write in. A desk, a chair, appropriate light and space. And then help to tidy up if she made the area too messy. As the mess got bigger and bigger her enthusiasm for writing would dwindle, and her feelings of hopelessness at it EVER being tidy AGAIN would overwhelm her. The best thing I did for her at these times was to help, or completely take over if she requested - clear away all the rubbish, make a box of "I'm not sure if this is rubbish" for her to look at another day, and then make the space all nice again, or before putting it all back together sometimes we'd move the desk to a new spot in her room for a fresh start. This was a lot harder when she was sharing a room with two, and then three little brothers (we built her a mezzanine at that point), but at age 13 she got her own room and had the freedom to spread out a little.

In her "office" to encourage creativity she has art equipment, and writing gear. She always has a big A4 notebook to write and scribble madly in, visual diaries galore, her favourite sorts of pens and pencils, and a laptop. When she was little this sort of set-up made her feel very grownup and organised. And it still does. :)

*Note: My 2nd son has now written, illustrated and published a novel.

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