7 steps to improve creative writing by Dr. Nicholas Correa
How to Improve Your Child's Creative Writing Skills
Dr. Nicholas Correa
ELT Resource person, Ratnasagar Publication
The ability to write well is vitally important to do
well in school and in a career, as many jobs
require writing, even if only to communicate via
email. Traditionally, little teaching of creative
writing has been done until the upper elementary
grades, and even then, it often takes a back seat
to other subjects. It is possible, though, to
improve your child's creative writing skills through
encouragement, supporting the teacher's efforts
at home, and teaching some writing skills
yourself. The following steps provide you with
ideas and methods to help make your child a
1.Read to and with your child. Reading and
writing go hand-in-hand; good writers are well
read, not just in grammar and usage, but in
various subjects also, and well versed in
various writing styles. Your child's teacher and
local librarian can help you select books that
are appropriate to your child's age and
•In addition to reading to your child, have your
child read to you, and, if you have more than 1
child, have the older children read to the
2.Play games with words. Word games include not just
commercially available board or card games, but
brainstorming games as well. Following are examples of
both commercial and brainstorming games you can play
with your child, some of which you can follow with actual
•Word games such as Scrabble, Unspeakable
Words, Bananagrams, or Boggle are great
vocabulary building games. With Unspeakable
Words, which requires players to keep a list of
already used words, you can use that word list as
a list of story prompts.
•Games such as You've Been Sentenced provide
opportunities for sentence building. In addition to
playing the regular game, you can have your child
take a group of game tiles and try to come up with
the most ridiculous sentence he or she can think
•Games such as Scattergories, Mad-Libs, and
Magnetic Poetry provide excellent opportunities
for brainstorming, helping your child get into the
habit of thinking of story ideas or words to use.
(The makers of Magnetic Poetry provide an online
area for kids to play with digital versions of their
word tiles athttp://magneticpoetry.com/kids-area/.)
•For young children, you can bake biscuits or
cookies in the shape of letters or words and then
have them "eat their words" when they recognize
•Write instructions on slips of paper, then attach one to a ball or
Frisbee (or stuff it in an old sock to play indoors). One player
throws the ball to another, who then has to perform the action on
the paper before attaching a slip of his or her own and throwing it
to the next player.
•Inspired by Remy Charlip's book "Fortunately," in which
"fortunately" good things happened to a young boy followed by
"unfortunately" bad things, you can make a list of "fortunatelies"
about something your child has always wanted to it.
• For each "fortunately," have the child write down the
corresponding "unfortunately": "Fortunately, I came into a large
inheritance when my rich uncle died."/"Unfortunately, I had to
spend most of it fixing up the large house he also left me."
(Comedian Archie Campbell did a similar routine of "Hey, that's
good"/"No, that's bad.")
3.Provide your children with a place and materials for
Just as children should have a quiet place to study and do
their other homework, the same is true for their writing
Ideally, this would be a desk in the child's room, away
from the television. A child's writing area should include
the following materials:
•Pens, pencils, and erasers.
•A notebook or journal.
•Stationery (writing paper and envelopes). As the child
gets older and gets access to the family computer, he
or she will want to write on the computer. Encourage
this but also encourage the use of the stationery to
provide a personal touch to thank you notes and other
•An age-appropriate dictionary. Special purpose
dictionaries such as a rhyming dictionary aren't warranted
unless and until the child shows a definite interest in
rhyming poetry or whatever form of writing can be
assisted with a special purpose dictionary.
•Consider a thesaurus. A thesaurus isn't necessary until
your child starts working with synonyms to add colour to
his or her writing, at which point it can be a big help.
• Thesauruses are organized either by categories (Roget's
Thesaurus) or in dictionary fashion, which some users find
more convenient. Use whichever style is used in the
4.Encourage daily writing. The best way to improve writing
skills, no matter the writer's age, is through regular practice.
If you're homeschooling your child, you'll want to include
regular formal writing lessons, but you can also suggest your
child write about his or her day at school or about a trip to
the store after coming home.
You can also provide writing prompts in the form of pictures
clipped from various sources or picture books without words.
5.Get your child to think about a writing project
before doing any actual writing. Most writing
begins by planning the story, article, or poem before
actual putting pen to paper or fingers to keyboard.
You can use any of the following approaches to
encourage your child to think about the structure and
content of a writing project:
•Ask your child questions about the project. For story
writing, questions can revolve around the story's setting
(e.g., "When does the story take place?"), main conflict
("What is the most important event?"), and action/resolution
("How does Johnny get Green Lantern's power ring back to
him?") For a report, appropriate questions can revolve
around the journalist's "who, what, where, when, why, and
how." If your child expresses difficulty in deciding what to
write about, ask questions about things he or she has done
in the past and particularly enjoyed, someone he or she
particularly admires, or something else centered on the
•Play stenographer. Write down your child's thoughts and
read them back. You can do this with very young children to
help them learn to connect spoken and written words or with
older children to help them focus on their assignment.
6.Write along with them. While it's okay to help
with the actual writing if asked, "write along with
them" actually means doing the writing
assignment yourself alongside your child. Doing
the assignment yourself and showing the results
to your child shows him or her that you value
creative writing skills.
7.Review your child's work. With the child's teacher's
approval, look over your child's writing and gently suggest places
where he or she can make the work better (e.g., "You might want
to check the spelling of these 3 words.") Overall, though, you
should be looking for writing skills your child has displayed
proficiently and point them out; "Your description of 'Post 11
stood in the distance beckoning us to go on' told me how much
you would have enjoyed going further on the nature hike."