Summer Writing 101
Looking for ways to get the kids in your life excited about writing this summer? If you're here in Portland, I hope you'll send your 8-12 year old to my Writing & Yoga Camp. If you're farther away or booked up those weeks, why not host a writers’ workshop of your own? Invite your child’s friends to a series of meetings or to a one day writers’ retreat during which young writers share their work and offer one another feedback. Request that each child bring a short piece of their own writing to read aloud to the group.
I interviewed Patricia Zaballos, author of Workshops Work! A Parent’s Guide to Facilitating Writer’s Workshops for Kids, a while back and base my camps on some of her work. Zaballos has led workshops for kids and teens for over a dozen years. She notes that since workshops are open-ended and based on what the kids want to write about, they can be a great option for summer time. Kids can write on any subject and in any genre. They don't need to limit themselves to stories. Support them in writing in a style they enjoy.
Feedback prompts help kids and adults avoid the trap of saying only, “I liked it, it was good.” Create a list of suggestions such as “I remember…I was surprised by…or, I was confused by…” Prepare this in advance, or have participants write them on a poster or large white board at the beginning of the meeting. Having the kids write the prompts will get them engaged right away and prime them for the types of things to listen for during the readings.
In addition to sharing work, workshops can include time for participants to write. Writing prompts, sometimes called story starts, are story ideas, first lines, or memory-joggers that provide inspiration to get the ink flowing. Check your local library for resources for young writers. For kids who don't think of themselves as writers, Zaballos says list-making can be a fantastic beginning. “Make a 'List of Things That Drive Me Nuts' or 'Ways of Irritating a Sibling,'” she suggests.
A writing workshop may be just the motivation your children need to write over the summer. And who knows? Once momentum kicks in, they might just continue writing for a lifetime.
Visit my summer camp page for more info about Yoga & Writing Camps in NE Portland. And the good news - I've extended the Early Bird Pricing to June 30th!