Good writers think before they write! It’s really important for a young writer to form a habit of thinking about the intended purpose and audience, and organizing his or her thoughts before beginning a writing task. It will make the whole process easier. (For the writer AND the reader.)
Many people, especially right-brain learners, enjoy mapping thoughts using colors and illustrations. So help your child gather some writing paper, pencils, fine-tip colored markers and crayons. Here’s a quick way to practice making a plan for writing:
1. Think. What do you feel like writing about today? Who will read it? What kind of writing will it be? Do you want to entertain your reader? Do you want to convince your reader of something? Do you want to inform your reader?
2. Now, think about how to organize your topic. Draw a quick sketch or jot down some words and phrases to help you focus on your goal. Try making a mind map to show how you will organize your writing. A mind map is a visual representation of your thoughts. Many people like to color-code similar ideas and add pictures to represent events or facts. Mind maps are often organized around a main idea. (Main idea in the middle and subtopics and details shooting out from the main idea.) You can organize it any way that makes sense to you though. Mind maps help your brain sort out and remember what you want to say, so your writing will flow better. Oh, and they don’t have to be perfect works of art. In my example above, I changed my mind and re-organized my thoughts as I worked; so my mind map may be a little messy but it will help my writing to be clear.
3. You’re ready to write! Have fun, and don’t forget to follow your plan.
All good writers plan before writing, even if it’s just thinking about how to organize your grocery list. Next time you write at home, talk with your child about your process for organizing so he or she can see the real-life application of this skill.
Want more resources for teaching young writers to plan?
- Check out these great tips on How to Brilliantly Brainstorm and Brainstorming With 5-8 Year Olds. (Most work with older kids too.)
- Older kids may enjoy using a brainstorming app like Idea Sketch or Poplet.
- Harry Potter fans can see an example of J.K. Rowling’s pre-writing notes.