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How to become your child’s pen pal

by | Jul 10, 2008 | Reluctant or Struggling Writers, Writing Games & Activities

Becoming Your Child's Pen Pal: Simple, creative ways to encourage a reluctant writer

Does your reluctant writer hate journaling (or writing in general)? Do you need a way to encourage her? Try becoming your child’s pen pal!

This activity is best for children in the 8- to 12-year-old range, but you might also try it with other writing-phobic kiddos who live at your house.

Getting Started 

First, buy an inexpensive spiral notebook or composition notebook. If a colorful or thematic cover helps to wow your child, so much the better. Otherwise, a plain one will work just fine. Begin by writing an age-appropriate prompt at the top of the first page.

  • What’s your favorite thing to dream about?
  • Tell me something about you that I don’t know.
  • Would you rather wake up to fog or rain? Why?
  • Tell me about your favorite book.
  • What makes you feel scared?
  • What makes you laugh?
  • What are you thankful for?

When you don’t know what to write about, try these writing prompts for shared journaling.

Tell your child there are no rules, no wrong. She must simply write about the given topic and express herself however she chooses. No critiquing is allowed!

At first, don’t expect much; all she may give you is lists! But eventually she’ll begin to write more, especially when she finds the prompt particularly appealing.

Turning the Tables

Next, let your child choose a prompt for you and write it on the next page so you can write back to her. Offering her the chance to ask you questions can give her a sense of fairness and control. Who knows what she’ll want to know?

As your child’s confidence grows and she becomes more willing to write, you’ll start to get glimpses into who she is and how she thinks. Plus, you’ll have a treasured conversation journal between the two of you.

Give it a try!

Photos: lecates, courtesy of Creative Commons.