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The National Young Writers’ Awards!

Calling children of the UK!  It’s time to get creative and put pen to paper because the National Young Writers’ Awards have NYWA Logo 2016returned!  Judged by best-selling author, Lauren Child and organised by popular tuition provider, Explore Learning, the theme this year is ‘The Mash-Up’ where children are encouraged to write a 500 word story that is a ‘mash-up’ of two genres.  This could see a spaceman rocketed to Roman times, an alien landing in the lost city of Atlantis, a Victorian gentleman trekking the outback or your favourite fairy-tale character taking on blood-thirsty zombies – just let your imagination go wild!

It is the eighth year of the FREE national competition  with children battling it out to win the coveted prize of an amazing trip to Disneyland Paris for them and their family – and £500 worth of books for their school

Lauren in Black CloseupAnd this year’s judge will be none other than multi-award winning, bestselling writer and artist, Lauren Child.  The creator of much-loved characters including Clarice Bean, Ruby Redfort and Charlie and Lola has been at the forefront of innovation for 15 years, advocating visual literacy and the importance of quality books for children. 

Lauren says: “Being able to write well is a wonderful thing.  If you can write well, you can communicate your ideas, thoughts and feelings. If you can write beautifully, you have the power to move people with the stories you tell. The National Young Writers’ Awards celebrate the individual, encouraging children to find a voice of their own, to explore story-telling and see that the possibilities are endless.”

But sometimes getting started when writing a story can be the hardest part!  Here are Carey Ann Dodah from Explore Learning’s top tips you can share with your parents on  helping their child write a story:

  • Praise praise praise – sometimes children are afraid of giving writing a try as they are worried about what their peers will say or that they will get things wrong.  Encourage them to have a go and not be afraid of making mistakes.  Stagger their stories so that they at first write a 250 word story, then a 500 word, then a 1000 word story.  Make sure you celebrate their success each time! 
  • Know how long an activity is going to take – short and frequent learning activities can keep your child stimulated for longer and maximise the retention of information.  Try writing for 15 minutes and then do something else – that way children will know how long they are expected to write for and feel more motivated to complete the task.
  •  Encourage their love of reading – Reading books with children is a great way of sparking their imagination.  Once a child learns to read it can be tempting to let them get on with it but by reading together, you’re sending a message that reading is important and therefore writing is too!  Encouraging them to enjoy stories is the starting point to sparking their imagination. 
  • Let them fidget – sometimes children just need something to fiddle with such as a tangle toy.  This helps to take away the urge to fidget and stimulates parts of the brain that assist children in their learning. 
  • Be vocal – discuss any writing concerns with your child’s teacher and consider visiting an education centre like Explore Learning where they have writing tools specifically designed to support struggling writers. 
  • Start young – it’s very important for children to start writing from a young age, and I don’t mean just writing stories but writing anything at all!  It doesn’t matter if they don’t finish writing the stories, as long as they’re practising their own stories as much as they possibly can and creating something unique.
  • Make up stories about people they know – Some children may struggle to come up with characters’ names or descriptions so to resolve this, encourage them to write about people they know, or their favourite characters from books, TV or film!
  •  Don’t get bogged down in grammar – Of course it’s important later in life, but don’t let it prevent creativity. 
  •  Avoid the TV – With TV, films and games being a book’s biggest competitor, it can be tough to encourage a child to sit down and write but if you replace TV time with family reading time, it can be very powerful and inspire them to write.
  • Enter competitions – competitions such as the National Young Writers’ Awards (www.explorelearning.co.uk/youngwriters) are a fantastic way to give children confidence in their writing.  They get impartial feedback on their work and if they do well it will drive them further!

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