Teaching Story Writing in Your Homeschool

There are so many benefits to teaching your kids story writing.

Storytelling has been used in every culture to teach valuable life lessons and good storytellers were always respected. Written communication is still a huge part of today’s society – almost every occupation uses written communication.

Writing stories will help your children think more clearly, and improve their ability to communicate as a whole.

Story writing doesn’t just develop imagination. Researching for her novels has taught my daughter so much history, science, and geography that you can also count writing stories (even fictitious ones!) as educational.

So how can you go about helping your children write stories?

Use Imagination

Children usually don’t need much encouragement to be creative and imaginative, but there are things you can do to help. Think about how you can build an environment and lifestyle that supports their imaginations.

Building dens, playing pretend, and introducing them to imaginative books will feed their creativity. My absolute favorite book resource is A Picture Perfect Childhood by Cay Gibson. It is packed with reading lists for picture books that will enhance your child’s imagination and education in 15 minutes a day.

One of the ways I helped my children think imaginatively was to play a “What if..” game. I actually started this as a way to teach them safety rules as my husband was often away during the week.

So we started with “What would you do if you found your brother playing with matches?” or “What if Mummy was lying at the bottom of the stairs and looked asleep?”

This quickly moved into more fictional realms of “What if you looked out the window and saw a giant cat?” or “What if you found a magic coin that you could spend over and over?”

It is a fun game to play in the car and the children liked to think up “what if” ideas for each other. It became a really lovely way of helping them to think outside the box and bounce ideas off each other.

Let’s Write

Encouraging writing may seem obvious, but there are lots of ways we can stifle a child’s desire to write.

Emphasis on spelling, grammar, and handwriting will turn any story writing into a chore. We allowed these more technical skills to develop naturally as the children got older. If you make them part of your homeschooling then I would urge you to keep them separate from any creative writing your child does, especially in the beginning.

My daughter wanted to tell stories before she could read or write. She would pace backward and forwards dictating to me as I typed out her words.

She was so thrilled to have printed copies and would scribble draw on the pages to illustrate them. Writing stories doesn’t mean you always have to sit them down with pen and paper! There are lots of dictation apps and software available that will capture your child’s words if they hate to write things down. Or encourage them to make animations and videos of their stories.

Keep lots of little blank books and pens available to encourage physical writing skills. We make ours like this. I recommend you play with pens and other writing tools to find ones that write smoothly. I love gel pens and detest writing with ballpoints! Good quality pens or pencils really do make a difference.

There are also some wonderful books available that will tempt your child to put pen to paper. I have a long list of resources available in my Books To Encourage Kids to Write post. For example, Storystarters like these prompt the beginning of stories. I find they really help children get over the fear of the blank page and not knowing what to write.

Structure and Support

Once your child has developed a love for story writing then they will start to want to write better stories. I find that this is the point they will start to take an interest in the structure of stories and better writing skills. But it is also the time they get critical of their work and may need some additional help.

Luckily there are lots of resources available online (and off!) that encourage and support children in story writing.

Look for writing programs and groups aimed at children. KidPub authors club is an example of a safe community for kids who love to write. My daughter is a huge fan of the young writer’s version of Nanowrimo (National Novel Writing Month). Also, they have some fantastic free workbooks and lesson plans available.

Stone Soup is a magazine published by the Children’s Art Foundation aimed at encouraging all kinds of creativity and writing for and by children.

Teaching Kids to Write Stories

Developing storytelling abilities in your children is extremely rewarding – and gives them a definite advantage as they grow older.

Writing stores can be so naturally and easily fitted into your homeschooling.  I hope you are inspired to give it a try!

Julie Gilbert

About the author

Julie has homeschooled her two children in the UK throughout their childhood. Since 2008 she has been sharing their homeschooling projects and activities. With one child at University and one child working, she now has the freedom to support others in their homeschooling journey.

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