Think editing and publishing is adult stuff? Think again! Writing multiple drafts leading up to publication is a wonderful opportunity for children to practice skills, think creatively, and accomplish multiple-step projects. Here are the Do’s and Don’ts on how to guide your child’s writing to the next level.

Do make a writer’s corner. One key to successful editing and publishing is having a clean, organized space in which to work, find supplies and finish projects. Here are 20 essentials for your child’s writing corner.

Essential Writing Corner Supplies

  • Tape
  • Scissors
  • Stapler
  • Paperclips
  • Construction paper
  • Non-fiction books with pictures
  • Children’s dictionary
  • Tracing paper
  • Handwriting paper
  • Blank white paper
  • Hole puncher
  • String
  • Key rings
  • Brad fasteners
  • Thin and thick markers
  • Permanent markers
  • Pencils
  • Colored Pencils
  • Pencil Sharpener
  • In Box and Out Box

Don’t force your child to write if he's not in the mood. Signs of resistance include whining, repetitive frustration, or needing constant 1-1 help. Writing is a very personal process, even for children. Sometimes he will be in the mood, sometimes he won’t. Writing for homework is a “have to” and different than open-ended creative projects. Homework or not, let your child to take a break to grab a healthy snack, glass of water, or a quick bike ride around the block. All of these activities promote clear thinking, restfulness and concentration.

Do let your child decide when a project is complete. Children’s final drafts are not going to be perfect. You can expect misspellings, messy tape jobs, uneven paper, and sometimes the author will forget to put his name on the cover! The key is to celebrate your child’s creative process no matter how it turns out.

Don’t spell every word for your child. Instead, help him spell by sounding out words or using a dictionary together. Many children overly rely on adults in the writing process.Children are capable of writing independently as soon as a writing implement can be held properly. The adult role is to be encouraging, provide hints (not answers) and to celebrate risk-taking and independent work.

Do encourage a second draft. The challenge is to inspire your child to expand his work after you hear, “I’m Done!” As with real authors, some amazing writing comes from putting a piece of work down and revisiting it later with fresh eyes, ideas, and energy. Here are some essential questions to ask when tackling a piece of writing the second time around:

  • What is the setting?
  • Who are the characters?
  • What is the conflict and how is it resolved?
  • Is there a clear beginning, middle and end?
  • Are there places where you can add dialogue?
  • Can you change some words into fancier language: went hurried then the next morning happy thrilled
  • Can you add pictures to help illustrate the story?
  • Is this rewritten in your best handwriting?

Do publish your child’s work. After editing in one or more of the ways listed above, a third encounter with a piece of writing may include one of the following publishing practices: make the story into a book, give your writing to another person, share during Author’s Chair (see below.) Repetitive exposure to his own work can increase your child’s academic confidence and interest in writing.

Do instate Author’s Chair. Author’s Chair is a time for undivided attention on your young writer’s work. If you don’t have time to hear every piece of writing, put it in a special box or folder, and make time later for Author’s Chair. Choose a special chair for the aspiring writer to sit on. Encourage your child to read his own writing, even if he makes it up. Author’s Chair is a particularly good opportunity for a group of children, for example siblings, to listen to one another.

Writing can be a wonderful, joyful experience for children of all ages. The key is to make it fun and personalize writing for your child. Let him choose which tool he wants to write with today. Encourage your child to try one new thing from the lists above at a time. Celebrate writing with the whole family!