How to Host a Children’s Writing Workshop

Children's writing workshopOne of the funnest jobs I have is running children’s writing workshops. Not only is it lots of laughs, but I’m always absolutely amazed by the incredible level of creativity in children.

Presenting workshops is a good way for authors to earn income and to build their profile. But the best reason to host children’s writing workshops is because it provides you with the chance to do something great for your community.

For gifted children, writing workshops enable them to hone their skills and provide a platform for them to share their works. Workshops also have many benefits for children who struggle with literacy. Children’s writing workshops should always put the focus on fun and creativity, in a way that English classrooms often miss. This is not a place for strict guidelines or constant nagging about spelling or punctuation or choosing a higher tiered word.

how to teach children to write storiesChildren should have the opportunity to showcase their creativity and storytelling abilities (and ALL children have great storytelling skills) regardless of their literacy rating. Have your kids leave your workshops proud and energized about writing and they’ll want to do more of it. That’s the real key to building literacy skills. If they enjoy it, they’ll write more, if they write more, they’ll improve.

Not sure how to start hosting your children’s writing workshop?

Fellow children’s author, Karen Tyrrell, and I recently presented a workshop on just this topic and I’ve put together a checklist from all our points. Download it, print it and use it to plan your first children’s writing workshop!

free download how to run a workshop checklist

Motivate your child to study with an awesome planner

With so many appealing distractions, it can be tricky to motivate your child to study. I can’t count how many times we’ve had emotional breakdowns in our house the night before tests and motivate your child to studyassignment deadlines because one of our daughters (or both of them) had not prepared. As a mother and a teacher, this can be frustrating.

Finally, I’ve found a method that encourages my teenager to hit the books (and even drink enough water and get to bed at a reasonable time) and I did it by accident. Here’s some things I tried, so maybe they can help your happy family too.

Motivate your child to accomplish just about anything

Use their non-productive passion to trick them 

We are a geeky household. We love Doctor Who, comic books and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. One of my youngest daughter’s favourite interests is the Batman world. She likes the comics, the video games and the series ‘Gotham’. Batman is kinda cool, but mostly she favours the villains, especially Harley Quinn.

So, with InDesign, downloaded fonts and clipart (mostly from AdobeStock), we spent some quality mother/daughter time together creating the following template.

Study planner for studentsstudy organiser for kids

She has a spot for all homework and upcoming assignments for the week, a tick list for her extra study areas and goals, a fun bubble to create riddles (I’m pretty sure you can guess which villain inspired that), a spot for post-it-notes and then the weekly planner. I negotiated to get a box for ‘Family Activity’, which usually ends up being a board game.

your child and their homeworkThe end result? She loves her planner as much as I love mine (you can get your writer’s planner free on the sidebar or below).

We’re also a little addicted to creating planners and are already ‘planning’ the next one!

You could do this with just about any topic. And if you like this one lots and lots, let me know and we’ll turn it into a template and upload it to share.

Stay creative!

Charmaine

Reaching your writing goals depends on how you start

Writing goalsDid you list writing goals as your resolutions for New Year? At the start of every year, naysayers claim resolutions are a waste of time, but I say they’re missing the point.

Instead of worrying that you won’t persevere with your writing goals to the end of the year, embrace the excitement of starting, for this is your most productive time.

Humans love starts. Start of the year, start of a project, start of every week. The newness of it makes starts full of potential. Anything could be achieved.

There have been plenty of studies to back this up. Here are some ways to embrace starts to meet your goals:

Start a new challenge or goal on a Monday

An article on Psychological Science shows that people feel more positive about their goals on certain days that mark a new period. On these days, they are able to distance themselves from any past failures with goals. So make Monday mornings your day to write a short list of steps you want to take over the week to get you closer to your bigger goals.

If you want to read the article:

Why Monday is the Best Day for Setting New Goals

Start every day with any (or all) of these to boost productivity and success.

There are lots of books and websites offering the right way to start your day. Though the tasks might differ, they all have a similar philosophy — start with self-focus and in a positive manner. Here’s a collection of a few:

  • Writing goalsThe Miracle Morning for Writers suggests 30 minutes to an hour filled with:
    1. Silence or Meditation
    2. Affirmations
    3. Visualising your day
    4. Reading something that improves you
    5. Writing your thoughts, plans, ideas
    6. Exercise
  • Morning Pages are part of The Artist’s Way. When you wake, before anything else, write three pages by hand. There is something inspiring about connecting the pen with the mind. It doesn’t matter what comes out, just write whatever you are thinking. This
    helps to empty the trash or clutter that has built up, clearing the way for a creative day. You’ll be surprised at the great story ideas that can come from it.
  • Confidence positions  are an idea put forward by Amy Cuddy. The basic idea is that by making a confident pose, such as stretching to make yourself big, or putting your hands on your hips, you’ll trick your brain into thinking you are confident. If you’re heading out to promote your books or network, this is a great way to start your day.  
  • Hug yourself. I attended a lecture by Professor Pieter Rossouw on the brain and learning. Showing some self care by hugging or patting yourself on the back stimulates the hippocampus into regulating cortisol and relieving stress. You can also look in the mirror, smile and say, ‘Hi, I hope you have a great day!’ Apparently this will set you in a good mood for the day, which is beneficial for learning new things, and even extend your lifespan by reducing stress.

How do you start your day? I’ve tried many of these approaches, at the moment I’m enjoying my Miracle Morning routine. I track my progress in my daily planner. You can grab the daily planner for writers as a free download.

Stay creative!

Charmaine