Parent Handout #1 - Righting Writing in Seven Steps

Step One: Read to your children everyday, every age, be it newspapers, magazines, comics, novels, picture books, recipes, bus schedules, road signs, TV schedules, anywhere you find words. Draw your children’s attention to all the print that surrounds them every day. Get a library card. Visit second hand book stores as well as new bookstores (you don’t have to buy anything - just being surrounded by a literature rich environment feels good motivating one to want to pick up a book or two and read). Expose your children to as much written work as possible as this compounds in your children how valuable the written word is in their community, society and the wider world. Where possible, introduce them to other languages too. Making the connection between reading and writing is the grass roots...builds a strong foundation for writing as your children learn that what they say and what they do and what they think is what they write. Make the reading real and present. Make writing about real life experiences. Make the connection between reading and writing; be mindful of words.

Step Two: Provide as wide a variety of writing materials that you possibly can; paint brushes and paint, spray paint (see Banksy), keyboards-computers (electronic devices for typing), oil pastels, crayons, felt pens, pens, pencils and sharpeners. I believe that everything written down is valuable and that it should not be erased or destroyed; therefore, no erasers. Fingers for finger painting and paper or exercise books or art books or diaries or journals all for your children to express themselves freely.

Step Three: Drawing is a link between what children think and what they record. If children are struggling to write, encourage them to draw what they are thinking. Drawing is the process of putting ‘pen to paper’, establishing the link between one’s ideas and the blank sheet of paper. Writing can be very intimidating for children (and adults too). Allowing the freedom for creativity without retribution - no judging eyebrows - gets children off the starting line. Encourage your children to draw as well as, write.

Step Four: Provide time to write every day. Turn off the TV, the Smartboard, all electronic devices (unless they are being used to write). Set the scene; quiet, maybe music, perhaps scented candles, create a calm, inviting atmosphere to write freely, unrestricted, unconditionally. Step Five: No judgement or correction should be made while your children are writing.

Step Five: No judgement or correction should be made while your children are writing. Although spelling, punctuation, grammar and syntaxes are important for published works, your children’s writing is hopefully, the beginning of a long passion (a lifelong love affair), with writing (and reading). If what they record is criticized and corrected their creative writing juices will become stagnated; children will begin to learn to be very cautious when putting pen to paper. I heard this wee analogy once upon a time; children begin school as a whole apple and leave as a core. Let’s change this to: children start school as a whole apple and leave as an orchard.

Step Six: Role model writing. Like; Drop Everything And Read; DEAR, pick up tools and write together and write.

Step Seven: Share your children’s work. Tape it on the fridge, make a wall display, read it with them, “Tell me about your writing (picture or work), please.” Ask questions about their work and honour what they have written. Make a postcard and mail it to grandma, a friend set up a pen pal with someone in Australia or Canada (everyone knows someone in Canada). Publish their writing, making a jacket - a front and back cover. Throw a ‘reading’ party where everyone reads something that they have written (everyone that wants to read).