Developing children have so much to think about when writing- content, spelling, punctuation, capitalization, etc. What you are aiming to teach, or what you have identified as an area for improvement is the first step in deciding what method you will use. Topic is their choice and spelling correctly at this point is not a priority.
The first step towards encouraging free-writing is to focus on developing a positive mindset and being open minded to writing. A lot of people are big on just reading, not writing, at home. That is a dangerous thing because most kids then don't want to write for fun- so have free reading and free writing time.
The second step is to go shopping with your child to pick out a journal that they like! This will be their free-writing haven. They can write about feelings, activities, dreams, whatever they want! However the child wants to use this journal will be up to them. Label it however you want, but it should be something that is nice and calming. Whatever the pages are filled with, it is exciting to see a black book become filled with the ideas and emotions of a child. And go shopping for the pen - let them use whatever they want!
3) MODEL HABITS
Next, be a Model for Habits. Free-writing, journaling, nottaking, etc. should be a consistent habit you are exposing your child(ren) to because this in turn models their behavior! They say “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree” for a reason. Write to your children and around your children!
The fourth thing you can do to encourage free-writing is to add free-writing to your child’s schedule. (or at least have it be something that gets done each day) Make it a non-negotiable to create a new habit.
5) TIME IT
Lastly, to build new habits, set a timer and start small - each week add one more minute so it's manageable and achievable. Overwhelming anyone with a tedious new habit that interrupts their schedule can discourage the creation and longevity of that habit. Make it manageable and enjoyable!
Free-writing is a wonderful way to encourage literacy skills and a thirst for knowledge in children. This is the first step in nurturing a truly exceptional reader and writer. In my next blog, we’ll discuss steps you can take to implement editing and critical thinking in writing time, that doesn’t discourage the student!