And just about every student who has finally begun his or her summer, myself included, is rather reluctant to put pen to paper for any reason. Television, summer barbecues, pool days, and road trips easily dominate the select few days of the year students actually feel free–but what happens when one of us simply drops our pen, shoves our journal into a desk drawer, and allows our books to collect dust on the shelf? Writers lose a part of themselves when writing becomes a chore–something done for a letter grade, an assigned task with consequences for incorrectness, rigidly-structured exercises that drill perfection. Rather, it’s time to motivate the students in our lives to simply express what they need via writing.
I’m gearing up for our summer programs here at TT Patton, and the most looming question floating around me is, how do I help kids want to write? How do I show them that in order to really feel expressed, they need to write? And that no one can tell them what they’ve written is wrong?
Kids need space. They need a place in which they are comfortable, respected, and inspired. At TT Patton, we provide our young writers with “The Room” for a true artist’s environment.
Children’s imaginations, as we well know, stretch further than the adult mind ever seems able to, so it’s important to push those limits. Get your kids outdoors, let them observe the world around them, unplugged and unfiltered, and encourage them to write it out. Brilliantly inspired kids are too often misunderstood, and their raw talents become stifled because of it. Looking to foster positive energy and open expression in your kids? Browse this list of “18 Things Highly Creative People Do Differently.” Most importantly, allow your children to live loud. Take them places and show them everything you think they may be too young to understand.
Then, give them a journal and help them to realize that it’s their place to figure out those things they don’t understand, or are certain that they do. Have them do the writing whenever possible–grocery lists, post-it note reminders, birthday cards, so that they are more comfortable with their pens in their hands than without them. Provide your kids with a space that will encourage them to write without fear. Give them Roald Dahl’s advice, “…Watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you, because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.”
Hoping to see your students writing with us this summer,