Encourage Your Kid to Write – with an Autobiography

by Rashmie Jaaju on August 8, 2011 · 13 comments

in Read & Write

Helping kids develop a love for reading and writing is one of the most rewarding gifts we can give to them as parents and educators.

While reading can open up a whole new world to them, writing helps them think, reflect, express and articulate their thoughts. And in this whole process – know, explore and understand themselves better.

Out of the different ways that I offer reading and writing opportunities to Pari, one of the most endearing ways is by – -

Integrating Writing with Art

I think if art and writing can be integrated in a way that both support and enrich each other, it can be a really wholesome learning experience for the child.

Last week, Pari made a life-size self portrait which turned out to be the most heartening way of self-reflection. Encouraged by open-ended questions, self-reflection and studying herself in the mirror – it turned out to be fun, educational and creative.

The next day, I saw a great writing opportunity – an extension of the self-portraiture activity

How about an autobiography?

We sat together to understand – in the simplest of explanation – what an autobiography means. We also discussed how it is different from a biography.

Some of the things I did with Pari as pre-writing exercise were:

  1. I explained the meaning of an autobiography by taking some examples from her books. One of the books - 'Black Beauty' was a perfect example. We have this 1877 classic by Ana Sewell not in the novel format but in a comic book form with gorgeous illustrations, which makes reading (or being read to) easier for a child. It's a touching, heartwarming tale of a black horse (a Mustang) narrated in first person. A must-have.
     
  2. Before she began penning gown her autobiography, I had her sift through her photos on my laptop – sorted from birth till the present. When the events and memories come alive in the form of photos, writing can flow easily from them. Besides, I have always shared with her the stories behind those photos, so, they were there at the back of her mind when browsing through them.
     
  3. When she finally sat down to write, I gave her some photos in print. This really added to the excitement as she laid out the photos on her spiral leather-bound diary.

So, here she goes – her very first attempt at writing autobiography. We're going to cherish this for ever – both she and me!

What other interesting ways do you suggest for encouraging writing in young children?

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Anu August 8, 2011 at 8:01 am

Great idea!! Will certainly try this out with samhith! we have been doing a lot of writing activities too, since he has some trouble with writing, but i allow him to choose his own topics. the first one was about himself, and he wrote just 5 lines about himself… will show him this and get him to expand.. should be interesting to see what he comes up with!
Anu’s recent fabulous post..Our ‘Pet’ Snails!

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Rashmie Jaaju August 8, 2011 at 8:41 am

Anu,
Glad you like this. Letting him choose his own topic is just the right thing to do for a child who’s not much into writing. This way he feels more empowered and self-driven.
He doing a self-portrait and then writing about it may be interesting, too, for him…

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param August 8, 2011 at 8:26 am

Good job Pari and such a neat handwriting:) Rashmie, since Pari loves writing, you can try this…ask her to first form words(as many as she can) from any one letter that she wants. Once she has done that, you can ask her to make sentences or a short story with all the words that she has listed. eg lets take the letter B…words like, ball, bat, boy, big etc now she can use these words and create a story or statements of her choice like: A big boy was playing bat and ball an so on..hope this helps.

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Rashmie Jaaju August 8, 2011 at 8:45 am

Great idea, Param. I will have Pari read this and see what she thinks.
We do a similar activity. Like – I give her some words and she forms rhyming words of them. She then uses those words to write a poem. She also chooses a few “interesting” words from a story and forms her own story. We haven’t yet done where she writes words starting with the same letter. This could be an extension to what we do…
Thanks, param, for sharing.. :)

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Tharini August 8, 2011 at 2:13 pm

Hi Rashmie! It is my first time on your blog and I was directed here through a friend Praba, over at Saffron Tree. And I am only just delving into your lives, and it is so calming and also inspiring. Especially, your idea of a nature journal. It had me very excited about starting something like this with my 2 boys (aged 8 & 4). Just wanted to say hello and that I am reading.

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Rashmie Jaaju August 11, 2011 at 8:43 am

Dear Tharini, Hello!
So glad you found ‘us’ via the Saffron Tree and we are able to connect. :)
The nature journal activity is really soothing to the mind and heart. Wonderful to know that you would be doing it with your boys. :) Keep visiting, Tharini and do share your thoughts openly. :)

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Natalie August 8, 2011 at 2:37 pm

This story is so precious, I love how she poured her thoughts out on paper. So not happening here unless I am the one doing the writing. If I offer to write, then Anna is very happy to make stories – she always makes up stories when someone gets sick and eventually gets better.
Natalie’s recent fabulous post..What My Child Is Reading – August 6, 2012

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Rashmie Jaaju August 11, 2011 at 8:44 am

Hi Natalie,
Thanks for stopping by and and for sharing your thoughts. I will tell Pari that you admired her handwriting. She’ll be delighted :)

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JDaniel4's Mom August 10, 2011 at 11:31 pm

I am sorry I am late in stopping by! The is a wonderful post! What terrific biography!

This sounds as a post in the Summer Reading Challenge!
JDaniel4′s Mom’s recent fabulous post..Back to School Traditions Link Up Starts August 21st

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Rashmie Jaaju August 11, 2011 at 8:53 am

@JDaniel4′s Mom – thank you, dear, for stopping by to share your sweet comment.
The ‘summer reading challenge’ is a great resource.

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Aimee August 12, 2011 at 2:54 am

Yay! You linked up- again thank you for all of your creativity! Love it- and thank you for linking up to the Sunday Showcase
Aimee’s recent fabulous post..Animal Alphabet Art: G is for Gorilla

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suparna August 12, 2011 at 8:23 am

Hi Rashnie….
love your blog… my elder one is 6 .. & I was just thinking how to make him write things on his own … He is good at reading though.. This autobiography idea of yours is too good… I’ll encourage my son to do some thing like this.. & I am sure he’ll like it too.. thanks for such good ideas that you share…

Suparna

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Melissa @imaginationsoup August 13, 2011 at 10:34 pm

Wonderful ideas as usual ~ I love how you used art and photos to support her writing!
Melissa @imaginationsoup’s recent fabulous post..Be a Famous Writer Contest For Kids 2011

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