Today marks the first ever National Writing Day - a UK-wide campaign to help children discover that creative writing can be fun and can boost their attainment, confidence, aspiration and imagination! For the past 20 years we've seen a real focus from the government, schools and the third sector on reading for enjoyment initiatives, which have reaped huge benefits for children across the UK. It's now time for writing for enjoyment to get the focus it deserves.
To celebrate National Writing Day, the National Literacy Trust has today published new research which shows that children's enjoyment of writing is at an all-time high. The research also found that writing enjoyment gives children a significant academic boost: children who enjoy writing are seven times more likely to write above the expected level for their age compared with children who don't enjoy writing (23.2% vs 3.2%). However, the research also found that half (49.3%) of children still don't enjoy writing and are missing out on these benefits.
Writing matters. Being able to write well will help your child succeed at school, in the workplace and in everyday life. Writing helps children communicate their thoughts, process their emotions and spark their imaginations.
As a parent, you can play a key role in helping your child unlock the joys of writing. Even if you're not a great writer yourself, there are lots of ways that you can encourage even the most reluctant child to put pen to paper - the key is to make writing fun and purposeful, and celebrate creativity instead of cracking down on spelling and grammar.
- Creating a writing culture at home will help it become a part of everyday life for you and your child. Let your child see you writing regularly to help reinforce how important writing is to daily life.
- Become a writing role model by taking every chance you get to write at home. This can be as simple as writing out your shopping list, birthday cards, or creating a family noticeboard for everyone to put notes on.
- Make it easy for your child to write whenever the mood takes them. Have a box of writing materials for them to use at home. Fill the box with pens, colouring pencils and notepads, and take time every week to use the box as a family. You could play games that involve writing, such as hangman or word searches, or add interesting objects to the box which you can ask your child to weave into a story.
- You know best what your child is interested in, so give them a reason to write about it. If your child loves sport, you could encourage them to write a match report after a football game to share with their teacher or coach. If your child is a foodie, why not get them to write a recipe based on their favourite meal and then cook it together?
- The more words your child knows, the better writer they will be. Take every opportunity you can to talk to your child to increase their vocabulary. Ask them about their school day over tea or discuss a film or TV programme after you've watched it together. The more topics you discuss, the more words they will be exposed to and the bigger your child's vocabulary will become.
- Good writers are also good readers. Reading helps children experience other voices, genres and ways of writing. It also helps them expand their vocabularies, find inspiration and develop their understanding of language and the world around them. Take advantage of your local library and explore as many different reading materials as you can with your child. From comedy to comics - it all counts!
- Finally, be a writing cheerleader, not a writing critic! It can be tempting to pick up on spelling mistakes or grammatical errors, but try instead to focus on all the things your child has done well. If your child feels good about their work and is having fun, they will be more likely to carry on.
National Writing Day is coordinated by First Story, a literacy charity which aims to change young lives through writing, and is supported by with 35 partners, including the National Literacy Trust. To find out more about National Writing Day, visit: www.nationalwritingday.org.uk
For more top tips, advice and ideas to help your child have fun writing, visit the National Literacy Trust's Words for Life website: www.wordsforlife.org.uk