Is it possible to encourage all young writers to develop a passion for writing?
It is said that practise makes perfect! Be that piano playing, ice skating or baking! But you also have to feel some level of enjoyment or passion (surely?) and a natural urge to repeat a certain process in order for said ‘practice’ to become ingrained and something you love to do on a daily basis. In my opinion, I’m never going to be able to do the foxtrot or plaster a wall – a) because I am so uncoordinated and b) simply because I don’t really want to. (However, having said that maybe I’d be good at either of these if I tried? Who knows….. )
So to ensure that children become enthusiastic writers, we have to sow the ‘writing seed’ to prove to them that writing really can be exciting! We can do this by outwardly demonstrating a love of writing ourselves, by providing children with a continuous abundance of inspiring writing opportunities covering a range of genres and also to provide well worded verbal/written feedback in order to make them want to continue and want to improve. Yes…. you get better at doing something if you do it everyday – that’s true. But it doesn’t mean that it becomes a true passion.
That’s what we all aim for in every primary classroom; for children to LOVE writing, to know that we don’t always get it right first time, to know that we can change our minds and edit along the way, to know that we can pick up a pencil and write for fun or for a real reason….. and both are equally great! I want children to accomplish a piece of written work and have them feel just as successful as if they have painted a picture, completed a stage production or finished a running race. Ok… for some, writing is hard work, a chore and something that doesn’t come naturally or easily! But wherever their starting point, I always want them to want to get better each time – for themselves!
It’s hard sometimes as educators to ensure that our own high expectations and more prominently, pressures ‘from above’ to get children to age related standards, don’t then lead to ‘over marking’ and giving slightly too much constructive criticism to children which, in turn, may (and usually does) lead to visible apprehension and a tendency to be unambitious when it comes to vocabulary choice and use of imagination.
So, let them write everyday, shared write alongside them, make mistakes and allow them to correct you, let them see that you need to work hard at writing too, look at famous authors and how they use writing to spark imaginations, write for real reasons; letters to MPs, recounts of real
life experiences, diary entries, shopping lists, captions for models and photographs, gather stimuli from the internet, design your own superhero or dream house, invitations for friends, make magazines, write letters to others schools or thank you cards to visitors, write instructions for a game, a commentary for a video, write a book or film review but…. whatever you do – get it right and just write!
Make the classroom environment conducive to learning by promoting writing at every opportunity; by having resources available (there is nothing wrong with spelling mats and dictionaries being available) and plenty of prompts, displays and advice to support along the way.
As I write myself, be it a for a work email or family letter, I will inevitably stop as I need to find out a spelling or I require a synonym as I’ve used wonderful 24 times… and so I will hit the F7 key and scroll through the plethora of ‘wonderful’ words that are available to me. See, with today’s technology, we don’t write ourselves without using some sort of scaffold!
Writing is a process…. and also for EYFS children, an actual physical activity as they exercise their fingers in order to strengthen bones.
Make it fun, exciting and available at every opportunity. Let there be lots of modelling and examples of your writing too! The foundation of all great writers is their broad and rich vocabulary! Talk about the words that they may use. Never underestimate the knowledge a small child can retain when they are inspired! In today’s technology driven world, ensure that the children are given a daily opportunity to write. Please don’t forget too that daily reading is integral to improve writing! The two are so intrinsically and beautifully linked.
Praise, praise and praise some more as each day you see a little improvement in children’s writing and efforts. Post their work online, send them a printed version in the post, reward them with writer of the day/week and make every effort to let them know that they are getting better and on the right path.
So, is it possible to encourage all young writers to develop a passion for writing? Maybe not always a genuine passion I suppose but I do strongly believe, within a highly positive environment, that children can make rapid progress in writing because they really want to….