Encouraging Children To Write

Nurturing Children’s Interest In Writing

In Part 1 of this guest post by author Jean Cross, she explains her attitudes and feelings towards writing – first as an elementary school student, later as a high school and college student.

In Part 2, she talks about various kinds of writing she did as an adult as she refined her writing skills and worked towards becoming a professional author.

Jean says:

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We all love it when our children take an interest in reading. It’s a welcome development and is usually easy to spot.

But what of the kids who have an interest in writing? What outlets do they have for their emerging ability? In pondering the point I set out to examine my own relationship with writing, as a child.

My forum for writing, as a youngster, can be summed up in one word, school. Essays in particular seemed to be the only outlet where I was invited, or more precisely, instructed to let my imagination roam all over the page.

I wouldn’t say I received the teachers order to write an essay on a particular subject with great enthusiasm. The demand was often a parting shot on a Friday afternoon, cast a pall over Saturday, and was most often tackled on Sunday afternoon.

Looking back, I do know that before I left the school yard for the weekend the story was already taking shape somewhere in the back of my mind. Once I got into it on Sunday I felt in control. It was my page and I knew just what to do with it.

My parents didn’t help me with essays. They were always there for other stuff, but I knew I didn’t need them when I was writing.

I do remember that I was always pleased with my work . When I got it back from the teacher, having been corrected, it was always awash with red scribbles, I was, and am, a terrible speller. But there were very few occasions when she did not ask me to read my effort aloud for the class.

I found out years later that she often read my essays out to her colleagues in the staff room too. The truth is that the assignment were too easy for me. Looking back, I could have risen to tougher challenges. But in primary school (ages 5/6-12) there was no other outlet for a fledgling writer, in my experience.

Secondary school (ages 12/13-17/18) was a whole other kettle of fish. Writing became serious.

There was prose to explore, questions on Shakespeare and Yeats and Byron that needed an answer, critical analysis that demanded a considered opinion and all of it had to be written down.

I took it on happily and I was good at it. I developed a special relationship with the English language in secondary school and I came to love it.

My spellings didn’t improve, but I was still called on to read at the top of the classroom, and not just in English either. I could write a good essay on any subject, especially history. Then I finished school and it all stopped.

Since then I have been working and went on to University, at night, as a mature student in my thirties. The writing here was more of a chore.

I could still get my ideas over, but it was very exam orientated and while I enjoyed the experience and went on to get a Masters, I can’t say the writing stood out as a highpoint for me.

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Check back for Part 2 of this guest post which is entitled Does Your Child Want To Be A Writer in which Jean discusses her writing during her adult years and also how to encourage your own child in his or her writing interests.

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