By Rebecca Stonehill
Rebecca is a writer of adult fiction. She also teaches creative writing to children. As well as working with Simply Learning Tuition students via skype tutorials, she teaches creative writing in Nairobi on a freelance basis in schools, runs an after-school club and also teaches smaller groups.
At primary school in England, I was fortunate enough to have a wonderful English teacher who brought language and literature alive for me – she encouraged me to write ambitious stories, create and recite poems without inhibition and read voraciously. I’ve never forgotten her and the impact she had on my love of words.
Many children are turned off writing because they believe they can’t do it; that they’re no good at it. I don’t accept this. I believe that every child can write because every child possesses a wonderful imagination and it is up to the teacher to tap into and harness these creative capabilities innate to each and every child. A number of times I have sat with a child who has said ‘I don’t know what to write.’ Yet as soon as I ask them to vocalize their ideas they spill out freely. My point is that there often exists a block between ideas generated and the ability to scribe these thoughts. One reason for this ‘blockage’ is a child’s fear of being wrong in various ways, for example of making spelling mistakes, of not forming sentences correctly and of not being able able to bring together the myriad of ideas that flow free and unharnessed in the mind and the formation of these thoughts onto paper.
Children must be given an environment to write in which they feel unrestricted by the fear of failure, so whilst spelling and grammar is of course important, this can be consolidated and internalized at a later stage. Another key factor in unleashing the floodgates so that children are literally longing to get pen to paper, is finding topics that interest a particular group of children. Have a class been particularly intrigued by a science topic on space? Get them to write a first person diary entry of an astronaut on a mission to