When my kids were little, I decided to allow them to write in their own creative way, without unsolicited critique or evaluation.
As a child, my love of writing was thwarted by well-meaning adults who insisted on correcting my grammar, spelling, and sentence structure - even on things I wrote outside of the classroom. It was discouraging and took the fun and creativity out of writing. I was an adult before I learned to write creatively again without fear. I never wanted to inflict that fear onto my own children.
My youngest son is into many things. One day he’s organizing Nerf wars and the next he’s cooking. He’s a born storyteller, but has always disliked handwriting. He would tolerate typing to communicate on multiplayer video games, but never expressed an interest in writing his stories down himself. For years, he would dictate, I would write, and we would tuck his stories into a notebook.
One day my son was taking photos of his dogs. I had the idea that he might want to start a photo blog. He had recently discovered that his friend kept a blog, and he enjoyed reading the updates. To my surprise, he wanted to write a story about his dogs to include with the pictures.
He began with short paragraphs. When people commented, he was motivated to write more. Over time, he has built a portfolio of his interests – dogs, Nerf, cooking, Minecraft.
Blogging for kids is a wonderful vehicle of expression. Even if they don’t like to write, adding photos, or artwork to a blog helps them keep a record of their interests. It enables them to share their work with family and friends that live far away. It might even inspire them to write. There are many benefits to blogging. Startup is free in most cases. Your child’s blog can be up in no time, with just a few clicks of a mouse.
Improves Spelling, Word Structure, and Grammar My son learned to read and type playing multiplayer video games. He never had the opportunity to actually write paragraphs, use capital letters, or spell bigger words. With blogging, he became interested in grammar. I never correct his posts unless asked, but he does ask me to help edit before he hits publish. He doesn’t always choose conventional writing techniques (he has his reasons), but he is writing and expressing himself. I help him spell larger words and we get an opportunity to talk about why we use punctuation and certain words to get our point across. He is free to use a traditional form or choose his own style.
Improves Typing Skills When a kid is excited about doing something, they naturally get better at it. My son has become a fantastic typist by writing his blog. His speed and accuracy improve with each post. He likes typing much more than handwriting.
Helps a Resistant Writer Love Writing For my son, a blog has been a journal. When a child is free to express himself without fear of doing it “wrong,” he is much more likely to love it and be authentic. My son disliked writing until he was eleven years old, but now I can’t keep him from it. He always had the freedom to write. When he had the choice to blog, writing became not only important, but fun!
Develops Technical Skills Blogging helps kids learn to upload pictures, choose different fonts, add links, and use social media. Advanced users learn to take polls, set up tables, and learn html.
Builds Self Esteem and Confidence Comments have really empowered my son. When he receives comments, he feels a sense of pride and is motivated to write more. Share your child’s blog with friends and family and encourage them to comment.
Replaces Old Record Keeping Systems Remember clunky photo albums and scrapbooks? With blogging, your child can take photos, art projects, and even screen shots from video games and organize them in posts. Each post becomes a journal entry or scrapbook page that honors their life and achievements.
May Lead to Book Publishing My son’s friend, Viyan, has kept a blog for years. He writes stories as well as documents adventures he’s had around the world. Blogging motivated him to publish his first book on Amazon. He’s only eleven years old!
Joint Family Project Start a blog and get the family involved. Everyone can contribute posts and pictures about family adventures.
Add a Kids Blog to Your Family Business Madeline writes the blog Chocology Kids for her family’s chocolate business, Chocology. Her passion for chocolate inspired her family to become professional chocolatiers. Madeline was a resistant writer but she had a strong desire to share her perspectives and adventures. Through blogging, she has been able to do that and practice writing. It’s important to allow kids to express themselves without fear. Blogging is a beautiful medium for this. If you feel that nudge to critique and correct their work unasked, just remember famous authors such as e.e. cummings and Cormac McCarthy. They defied our insistence on grammatical correctness and went on to publish great works of literature.
Michelle Conaway lives and learns with her husband, three children and two dogs in Katy, TX. She started Texas Unschoolers, which hosts a supportive Facebook group, and a fabulous spring conference for unschoolers.