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Encouraging a Gifted Young Writer

Gifted and Talented Expert Advice from Rita Culross, Ph.D.

Q: My eight-year-old daughter is in a gifted program at her school. This year she found a love for writing stories. Both her regular and her gifted teacher have told me she is talented in her writing. How can I best encourage her?

A: Creative writers are best nurtured by a combination of educational experiences that foster writing ability, social support from teachers and parents for writing, and a strong personal desire to write. Writing is also fostered by reading and learning about the world through experiences, such as travel.

Writers often research the subjects and places about which they write, and writers learn how to write in part by reading the work of other writers.

Start by providing your daughter with a journal in which she can write on a regular basis. Journals capture the thoughts, ideas, and feelings of young writers and make great gifts for birthdays and the holidays.

Encourage her to read biographies of writers, especially women authors. Biographies of Laura Ingalls Wilder, Maya Angelou, Beatrix Potter, and Judy Blume can all serve as examples of successful women writers.

Provide other opportunities for her to write. Encourage her to share selected writing samples with you. After visiting an art gallery or the zoo, encourage her to write about the experience. Have her write in response to a piece of music or have her write letters to relatives about experiences she's had or places she's visited.

As she gets older, explore extracurricular activities that support writing, including newspapers, yearbooks, and writing contests.

Finally, do work with her regular and gifted teachers to nurture her writing at school. Together, you can plan activities that support her interest and accomplishments in writing. Who knows? You may be working with a future Pulitzer Prize winner!

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Rita Culross is Associate Dean, College of Education, and Adjunct Professor of Psychology and Curriculum and Instruction at Louisiana State University. Culross has served as the consulting school psychologist for a public school elementary gifted program, and has written a book and several journal articles on gifted education.


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