We could all use a little encouragement along our writing journeys.

Okay, sometimes we need a lot of encouragement. I know I need it, and I have been writing all my life! 

Writing Is Hard

It can be so easy to get discouraged with our writing, even for us adults. Even writer Ernest Hemingway said it was like sitting down at the typewriter and… bleeding. We may struggle in so many ways – with handwriting, typing skills, spelling, and grammar, and these can work to hold us back. It can be difficult to focus, flesh out ideas, stick with a train of thought, or even come up with an idea in the first place. If you have ever had difficulty with any of these things, it’s safe to say your kids probably have, too. 

Think about the ways you have struggled with writing throughout your life. What were your setbacks? What do you struggle with today… or what eventually stopped you from writing completely?

The truth is: if we want our kids to write, we need to set an example: 

We need to write.

    Yes, we need to let our kids see us write. 

It doesn’t have to be a novel. It doesn’t have to even be fiction. Maybe you write a letter, or a journal entry, or write down a childhood or family memory to share with your kids. Or maybe if your kids are responding to a poem or a story or a writing prompt, you sit down with them and write your own response. The two of you can compare what you’ve written later and have a good discussion. 

Demonstrating the Importance of Writing 

How many times have we heard kids complain about how they’ll never use math later in their lives? Well, what about writing? 

Think about how much the average adult writes these days. Is the majority of it over email, text, or social media? Is the rest all at work? 

I want to encourage you to write creatively and/or expressively over the next week – for your kids – and for yourself, too! Here are just a few ways you can: 

Ways We Can Incorporate More Writing Into Our Own Lives 

  • Pick up a notebook or a journal at the store and make a habit of writing in it every day. 

  • Write down memorable things your kids do. 

  • Write down childhood memories of your own. 

  • Write your kids’ birth stories.

  • Make a list of things you’re grateful for.

  • Keep a morning or evening diary. 

  • Make a list of places you’ve been or places you’d like to visit. 

  • Write the story of your favorite family trip. 

  • Write that short story you’ve had in your head for years. 

  • Continue a story you started ages ago. 

  • Journal your daily thoughts. 

 

Writing can be so much enjoyable when we take the pressure off ourselves to write perfectly. This goes for us, and our kids. So, write for the joy of writing, and share that joy with your kids. You got this. Have fun! 


One thing that really helps me and my kids to write, especially if we feel stuck, is to write to a writing prompt! 

When you subscribe you’ll receive free writing prompts sent directly to your email every week – plus plenty of encouragement, too. 

Want more? Head to our shop to check out our resources there that will help your family in your daily writing practice! 

 

Subscribe for your free writing prompts!

 
I’ll see you again soon, writers! 
Katie 

What if I told you that sometimes I was afraid of writing? 

Yes, me, who has built a career out of writing and teaching writing. 

I have to be honest and say sometimes writing, especially creative writing, really scares me. But really – it’s okay. 

It would be wrong for me to pretend that the things we love and love to do should always be easy and free-flowing. So, does writing always come easy to me then? No, actually hardly ever. Truth be told, I have to psych myself into the practice nearly every time I sit down with the intention to write. I don’t sit down with a beaming light shining upon me from the heavens when I write. Nope… actually that has never happened to me. 😉 

Miraculous Meaning-Making 

And yet beams of light from the heavens on a writing writer is what I think many people expect writers to look like every time they work, like some movie montage of someone hunched over at a desk while inspirational music plays. 

I think people expect this of kid writers, too. Think about how we have been teaching writing in our culture – and maybe this is even how you learned to write:

Kids, who are so new to navigating the world, are suddenly handed a pencil, told how to properly grip it with their still-developing little hands, and are then expected to learn their alphabet plus phonics plus write down strange characters on a piece of paper and be able to tell you what they mean – and fast. 

No wonder kids are bewildered when we then start to demand words and properly punctuated and grammatically correct sentences out of them when they’re just babies.

Ruth E. Shagoury, in the very first chapter of her book Raising Writers, encourages us to “pay attention to miracles” in children’s writing. When we expect and demand consistent perfection out of our kids, it sets them – and us – up for a disappointment. How can we expect consistent progress out of anyone first of all? But when we pay attention to the miracles that are happening as children’s literacy skills blossom, we start to notice emerging understanding and the brilliant making of meaning in our kids.

Take Stock of Your Worries 

Of course, kids are capable and resilient. When we expect more out of them, they will give us their all. Yet in many parent circles that I’m in, I hear and see so many parents worrying and wringing their hands over their children’s seeming lack of progress and development, frantic and “freaking out” about their kids. Things I have heard concerns about vary from a 5-year-old who “didn’t retain” her ABC skills to even littler kids being “behind” in writing letters and sounding out words. 

Mama, Papa… Breathe. 

They are resilient! And – 

When they’re little, what they need is nature, books, and you. What they really need? Playtime. 

Play is crucial to children’s development. It’s how they learn. (Yes, even big kids, too!) When we weigh kids down with our worries about them being behind when they are still so young, what we can really end up doing is weighing down their very nature. Perhaps this happened to you when you were young, or maybe you are worried about your child being behind and possibly ridiculed for it in school or among their peers. So maybe it seems it’s helpful and protective to push them harder. 

Just trust. 

Just trust that their literacy skills will come, and will come miraculously in their own time. In fact, they’re already there, sometimes we just can’t see it. Little kids know which way to turn pages in a book or journal. They know that when they bring a book to you, it means a story, connection, and entertainment. When we continue to simply pair reading and writing with good things, that fosters the motivation in kids to be able to pursue them on their own. 

Trust the Process 

Children look to us for guidance. When we address our own worries and fears, we will no longer project them onto our kids. Then we will be able to parent and guide them out of love and trust, honor, and respect. When we trust the process of literacy in children’s development. we are able to let loose a little bit and allow ourselves – and our children – to simply enjoy childhood. 

Trust your child to learn in their own way. Trust your intuition and listen to your child if it seems they need more help, too. Sometimes we do need to intervene if perhaps say, a child can’t see well enough or needs some other form of medical treatment. That is okay, too. It’s not a setback, it’s just part of the process for your individual child. Once they have their glasses, for example, their headaches will be gone, they’ll be able to see clearer, and their reading and writing will take off. 

You Got This 

Your kids have got this. When we share the reins and allow kids to guide their own learning, miracles will indeed happen.

It’s all gonna be okay. 🙂 

If you are looking for writing inspiration for your family, I invite you to subscribe to receive a free writing and poetry activity for kids. Subscribers also receive a free writing prompt in their email every week! This is a great way to grow your family’s writing practice. 

We also have a TeachersPayTeachers store,with a growing collection of resources that will encourage kids to explore their own writing. I’d love to see your kiddos utilize my family’s creations to spur on their writing. I welcome any suggestions or requests on our resources as well! Please do feel free to reach out – and don’t forget tosubscribeto learn more! 

Write away, friends! 

Katie 

 

My daughter is a voracious reader. She absolutely loves the Warriors series by Erin Hunter, and she has now read almost every book. So recently, my husband and I bought her another book by Erin Hunter – the first book in the Seekers series. I wasn’t sure how she would react, but she absolutely devoured it. She loves to write fanfiction stories about the Warriors, so I wasn’t surprised when she started writing a Seekers fanfiction story. And I was absolutely blown away when I read the first chapter – which she freely and openly shared with us. 

My Kids’ Writing 

My daughter had crafted eloquent and vivid descriptions and a gentle story. The Seekers series is about bears – grizzly, black, and polar bears to be precise. Her first chapter detailed her polar bear character. She employed descriptions like, “steady, friendly snow drifted from the sky.” Wow. I can picture such a snowfall, and this simple and beautiful phrase really sets up her scene.

Our first son is almost 7. (He’s counting down the days to his birthday – single digits now, by the way.) He is artistic and creative in his own special way. Just a few weeks ago I got a glimpse of his very first story. The thing is, I didn’t even know he was writing it until he brought it over to show me. He had been playing on a tablet, upside down on his head on a seat, as he tends to do as a squirmy little kid. I had mistakenly thought he was playing a game. Was I ever wrong! He had had a document open and had been writing his very first original story all on his own. The story was accentuated with emojis and exclamation marks and words in all caps. It was expressive and exciting. It was his very first story. 

Childlikeness in Writing & Creativity 

Kids tend to write with abandon – that is, if no one has taught them to do otherwise. If adults in their lives have not hounded them for spelling, grammar, and punctuation “errors” and drilled in “conventions and rules” – kids will write their hearts out because why not?  Writing is there for them to use to create and to express themselves, freely and openly. Of course, the conventions will come, but they ought to come as an enhancement, not an inhibition to writing. What’s more important for every first draft, or even second and third, is that children explore

My daughter has taught herself many songs on the piano. From songs from Disney movies to Camila Cabello songs, she has spent countless hours at our piano practicing away. She is exploring an art and expressing herself through music. I am not going to hover over her shoulder telling her she hit the wrong key. That would teach her she does not have agency and the ability to grow and learn. Likewise, I am not going to hover over her as she writes. In writing, kids should also know they have agency and the ability to grow and learn. In both music and writing, in anything really, kids should be allowed to explore first, and development will soon follow their interests. 

Exploration First in Writing 

How then can we set up an environment where children’s writing practices thrive? 

Really, it starts from infanthood. Even little babies enjoy looking at books. They absorb the vibrant images and the singsong rhythm of stories read aloud in the voices of people they love. Babies can understand relationships between books and those who care for them. They can learn that books mean comfort and connection. This understanding only grows with them, and as they grow older, these babies turned toddlers turned preschoolers begin to seek out books. How many little ones have you seen pluck a book off a shelf and bring it confidently to a caretaker’s lap? They settle in with excited expectation, ready for a story. They are exploring within the bounds of safety and encouragement. They are exploring the heights and depths of the written word with the care of a loved one, and it is in this way that they can begin to learn to boldly explore the written word on their own. 

Read to Write 

Reading and an early introduction to books has everything to do with children’s writing. My daughter and son both love to write stories based on their favorite books. They write stories around the book’s characters, and they also write their own “OCs” or original characters as they go along. Their favorite books are teaching them – compelling them – to write. 

Simply put, reading teaches writing. Reading and writing are two sides of the same coin. If we do want to teach convention, hand your kiddos a book first instead of drilling in filling in the blank with punctuation marks. Seeing punctuation in action and making meaning will be more encouragement to use it properly than any practice worksheet ever will. (A thought process could go something like this: “Ohh!! That ‘?’ can make it so this character is asking a question? Oh, cool. I should try that.”) Voila. They just learned how to use question marks – it made sense, it made meaning, it moves the story along… they got it – naturally. 

Learning Writing Naturally 

Humans learn better when we enjoy something. That’s been scientifically proven. If we are under intense pressure to perform, we tend to buckle under that pressure and oftentimes break to the point where we internally vow that we’ll never do this thing we’re being forced to do, on our own. If kids are constantly hounded to do something and “do it the right way” with parents or teachers anxious for them to “get it right”, kids are not going to learn that writing is a powerful and enjoyable tool for them to use to create and express themselves. 

Instead, we can use books and writing to show kids the endless opportunities of humanity’s potential – of their potential. What we imagine, we can create. By the stroke of a pencil, a few letters, then words, strung together can make meaning begin to come to life. 

Bring it to life. Explore. And breathe life into those words. Write. 

If you are looking for writing inspiration for your family, I invite you to subscribe to receive a free writing and poetry activity for kids. Subscribers also receive a free writing prompt in their email every week! This is a great way to grow your family’s writing practice. 

We also have a TeachersPayTeachers store,with a growing collection of resources that will encourage kids to explore their own writing. I’d love to see your kiddos utilize my family’s creations to spur on their writing. I welcome any suggestions or requests on our resources as well! Please do feel free toreach out – and don’t forget tosubscribeto learn more! 

Write away, friends! 

Katie 

 

Henry David Thoreau once said, “we need the tonic of wildness.”

Having spent a long time living alone on Walden Pond deep in the forest, Thoreau certainly knew this tonic well. He spoke of exploring marshes and woods– of being refreshed by nature. Thoreau learned well that we need nature, that nature has the power to cleanse and renew us. He knew that nature brings us to ourselves in a way nothing else can.

Nature has the power to restore us. 

But if nature can renew and restore us, why do we spend so little time in it nowadays? Why do we not seek that tonic of wildness more often

No, I don’t know the answer, but I can guess at some of the reasons. Maybe we’re too comfortable indoors. Maybe we are too glued to our screens. Or maybe we’re too tired and rundown to even think about seeking out that tonic. And maybe we’ve just forgotten what it feels like to have mud squish between our toes or to lay in the grass and gaze up at a blue sky. I almost wonder if we were to remember if we would seek it out more.

Children Remember 

Do you know who remembers those feelings? 

Children.

Children remember. Children, who make forts out of treetops and villages out of creekbeds – they remember and know well the tonic of wildness. They are the ones who seek out the muddy puddles after a rainstorm, and the ones who collect dandelions. They haven’t forgotten what it’s like. They remember all too well. 

A quote that’s attributed to Pablo Picasso keeps coming back to me. “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.”

Because it’s the same with art as it is with nature, isn’t it? Children have this innate desire and ability to explore their world – whether it be in nature, the world around them, or in art, a world they can create.

I know I can see this in myself, and I’m wondering if you can, too. I am a writer. At least, I like to say that I am. Growing up, I wrote like wildfire. I filled notebook after notebook with stories. And not only that, but I played outside to my heart’s content. I knew how to make a wilderness out of a suburban backyard. I can remember just how vast everything seemed back then… before I grew up. Before I let it go. Before I got some “sense” knocked into me about how the world really works. 

But living artless and wordless away from nature is not how the world should really work, is it? I know you can probably tell similar stories from your childhood too, no?

Or maybe you see it in your own children. And you know, that’s why and how I’m starting to come back to myself – because of what I see in my own children. I see them turn our house into a fantasy land, and all they’ve had to do was turn a switch on in their imagination. They can write stories like I used to, and they can play like I used to, too. 

I see my younger self in them, and I know – they are the artists. And I want to be there to make sure that they never lose that. I want them to burn the wildfires on the page and canvas and in the backyard and while they play. I want them to explore and be refreshed and renewed by that exploration – and then explore some more. And I want them to know that this world and the world within them are endless, and so keep on exploring. 

Wildwood Writing

I may not write or create like wildfire anymore. I am older now and have seen a lot in this life. But my pen can move as in a wildwood, exploring gently as a butterfly drifts in and out of the trees and flowers. I can do my wildwood writing, and explore in my own way.

I know now that this may suit me. And so as the children cleanse and restore their souls as in a wildfire, I might cleanse and restore mine as in a wildwood. It’s time to take a path deep into the wilderness and explore far and wide.

It’s time to partake once again in the tonic of wildness. 

 

 

If you are looking for writing inspiration for your family, I invite you to subscribe to receive a free writing and poetry activity for kids. Subscribers also receive a free writing prompt in their email every week! This is a great way to grow your family’s writing practice. 

We also have a TeachersPayTeachers store,with a growing collection of resources that will encourage kids to explore their own writing. I’d love to see your kiddos utilize my family’s creations to spur on their writing. I welcome any suggestions or requests on our resources as well! Please do feel free to reach out – and don’t forget tosubscribeto learn more! 

Write away, friends! 

Katie 

Katie