Although your child might not want to become a novelist, blogger, or journalist in the future, building writing stamina is an important life skill. Writing is often a component of the work that takes place in different industries. Whether it’s a series of emails, a summary of their accomplishments, or a proposal, there are many ways your children may be asked to write in the future.
What does it mean to have stamina? We sometimes use the term stamina when talking about sports like running, or different types of exercise. Merriam-Webster defines stamina as “the bodily or mental capacity to sustain a prolonged stressful effort or activity; the moral or emotional strength to continue with a difficult process, effort, etc.” If you’ve found that your child is struggling to stay focused as a writer, there are strategies you can introduce at home to help build your child’s writing stamina.
To support your child as a writer, there are a few things you can do to help them get excited about writing and stay focused on this task. From trying out different paper and pens to setting a structure in time and space, you can help your child build stamina as a writer. In this blog post, I have seven strategies to help build your child’s writing stamina.
If you’ve heard the phrase, “it’s a marathon, not a sprint,” this definitely applies to stamina beyond the track and field competitions. You can start small to build writing stamina with quick five-minute activities one week and bump them up to seven or ten-minute activities the following week. Carve out time for writing activities and build onto it using a set schedule or when it feels like the correct time to increase. You might set a timer or use this metric for your planning to ensure you are setting up your child with a schedule that includes writing during the weekend or after school hours.
If your child seems distracted as a writer, it may be because they are afraid of missing out on another activity. You may want to set up a part of your day where everyone in your family sits down to write at the same time. This could include time for everyone to journal or participate in a creative writing activity. Another benefit of writing together is that your child can see that writing is an activity everyone happily participates in, so it doesn’t seem like a punishment.
Make it Silly
We all love when a task is more fun! Introducing fun writing prompts can make a writing activity more of a game. How does this work? You might put the name of a type of character (ex., Monkey, penguin, turtle) and a type of setting (ex., Forest, jungle, ocean) into a hat and pick out one of each. Then you can make a game out of writing stories about “a turtle in the jungle.” If you are bringing multiple family members together for this activity, you can have everyone use the same writing prompt and share the silly stories they come up with using the same prompt.
Try Different Tools
Changing up your typical pencil and paper writing routine can also help children maintain focus as you work to help them build writing stamina. Something simple, like providing coloured pencils and pens, can boost engagement and excitement about a writing activity. For example, you might introduce a whole new pack of coloured pencils or just one new flare pen each time your child sits down to write. The different tools you give to your child could be more of a surprise, like, “Today we’re going to write in our journal with a purple pen!” or more of a choice, like, “Do you want to use the blue or green pencil for our writing time today?”
Pick out Paper
Just like changing up a pen or pencil, you might give your children some choices with different types of paper to write on. From construction paper in a variety of colours to using paper with different lines, the novelty of new options and the ability to take ownership of what types of paper they would like to choose can help boost your child’s focus on a writing task, too. You might introduce a few different choices or collect scraps of paper from other activities to add to a writing paper bin in your home.
Share With an Audience
Knowing that someone else is going to see what we’re working on can change the level of buy-in and commitment we have to our work. The same thing is true for children, and we can leverage this fact to help kids dedicate more time and energy to a writing task. If you’re not exactly sure who to share your child’s writing with, there may be a friend or family member you nominate to be a champion of their writing. If this person isn’t nearby, you can snap a picture of their writing and ask them to provide encouragement and adulation as they write more and more.
The first tip in this blog post was about starting small and increasing the time you allocate for writing at home. You may want to set a goal for writing that you share with your child. For example, you might share a reason why writing is essential, like a connection to a career they aspire to have. Or you might share an academic goal related to a conversation with their teacher. The goal you set together could include a set task like, “We are going to spend the next two weeks getting ready to write a letter to friends and family to put in your birthday party invitations.”
As you think about the different ways to support your child’s academic growth at home, writing stamina may be an area you’d like to focus on. Writing stamina is a lifelong skill that works its way into many aspects of our lives. For your child, building writing stamina can impact their success both at school as well as in future endeavours!
About Dr. Monica Burns
Dr. Monica Burns, Ed.D. is a curriculum and educational technology consultant, and founder of ClassTechTips.com. She hosts the Easy EdTech Podcast and is author of EdTech Essentials: The Top Ten Technology Strategies for All Learning Environments.
Photo description: A young girl writes in a journal while sitting next to a stuffed animal toy.