Reluctant writers are not born—they’re made. Instead of assuming your child doesn’t like to write, try a little motivation in the form of a good writing prompt.
Writing prompts or essay prompts are statements that direct students to write about a particular topic. Writing prompts are commonly used for classroom writing activities and writing tests, including standardized tests. But just because writing prompts are associated with school doesn’t mean they have to be boring!
Indeed, writing prompts have come a long way from the days of, “Describe what you did on your summer vacation.” Educators now recognize that a poorly chosen prompt can frustrate or turn off the writing juices, while a well-chosen writing prompt can inspire and thrill. The best of today’s writing prompts are creative, stimulating, and produce good efforts—even from reluctant writers.
Find the Right Writing Prompts
One of the best ways to help your children succeed in school is encouraging them to write. But how can you make it enjoyable, and not a chore? Here are some tips for finding the right writing prompts for your child:
Pick a topic that interests your child. Young writers will write with more enthusiasm and more fluently if the subject is relevant to their everyday life. Whether it is a narrative or an expository essay, the topic needs to be one that piques a student’s interest.
Make sure prompts are open ended. Nothing can create writer’s block more quickly than putting limits on a child’s expression. Students need to feel that there is no “right or wrong” response when they are writing. Give the writing reins to your child and let them take off! Don’t hover or offer advice on how they might respond to a prompt.
Have a Plan B. No one prompt sparks creativity in all students. Give your children more than one choice, or at least more than one direction to go with a particular subject. Having a choice empowers students to make the writing even more personal.
Fit Their Age. Nothing turns off students more than a writing prompt that’s considered too juvenile. Topics that get elementary school students tickled with excitement might make a hormone-surging middle schooler groan with exasperation! Motivation comes from feeling a connection with a given subject, and different age groups connect with different topics.
How to Create a Writing Prompt
Sources for writing prompts abound, but the best source is your own imagination. Writing prompts that encourage opinion, or tickle the student’s funny bone can be strong motivators of good writing. Instead of saying, “describe your favorite person,” ask a question: “If you traded places with your favorite person for a day, what would you do?” Creative questions spark the imagination and can make any writing topic into a fun adventure!
Here are a few examples to get your own writing prompt juices flowing:
Early Elementary Prompts
What would you take with you on a trip to the moon?
Write about what you think the world will be like in 100 years.
Middle School Prompts
If you could talk for unlimited minutes on your cell phone to anyone in the world, who would it be, and what would you talk about?
Write a review of the last video game you played.
High School Prompts
Many celebrities (actors, musicians, models, or athletes) make a great deal of money. Do you agree or disagree that celebrities make more money than they deserve and why?
Think of a time when you achieved a personal goal. Tell your readers about the story of how you met your goal. Be sure that your readers understand why the goal is important to you.
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