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Unlock the writer that lives inside your child through freewrites

Freewriting is exactly what the words imply: Writing freely. Freewriting gives your children the freedom to pay more attention to what they have to say than how they're going to say it. It's the tool used by novice and professional writers to make written self-expression as natural as speech.

Here's how it's done:

Read these guidelines to your kids.

  1. Keep the pencil moving without stopping for ten minutes. (It's okay to start with 3 or 5 minutes, if that feels better to your kids.)
  2. Write everything that comes to mind, even seemingly unrelated comments like, "I hate writing. This is too hard. I don't think I would have liked Columbus if I had met him."
  3. Don't self-edit. Allow for bad handwriting, poor spelling, grammatical errors, sentence fragments, lists of verbs, little arrows, or quick drawings. Get it all down without worry about how it looks or whether or not it is right.
  4. Be outrageous. Use vocabulary and descriptions that sound overboard, silly, or absurd. Make comparisons and connections to other subjects (even if they seem at first glance to be irrelevant or unrelated).
  5. Keep writing, no matter what, until the bell rings, and then stop.

When the timer goes off, encourage your kids to take a break. Then, come back and reread what they've written. They don't have to show it to anyone, but they may like to read it aloud to you if they like!

When a child takes the risk to share his or her writing, two principles ought to be followed in responding to writing:

  • Notice a concrete aspect of the writing that you like (for instance, a clever word pair, vivid detail, a surprising vocabulary word). Next notice one aspect of the content you will remember from the freewrite. Share that with the writer.
  • Positive feedback helps kids (and moms!) to be willing to risk again. If we focus on what works, oftentimes what didn’t work will simply drop away in subsequent writing.

If you'd like to read more about Freewriting, read here:

Freewriting: The Key that Unlocks the Words


Find Friday Freewrite prompts on our blog.