Ask Reading Kingdom: How Can Children Learn to Write Creatively and Maintain Structure?


As children learn to write creatively, they must maintain a delicate balance between structure and keeping the creative spirit alive.

Shaun asks: How can children achieve the balance between creativity and structure with creative writing?

Reading Kingdom founder Dr. Marion Blank answers:

“This is a big question that requires a longer answer than we have space for here. But I can provide some thoughts. Frequently, in instruction, “creativity” has been associated with almost no structure.  It is assumed that removing all structure will “free” children to better express the creative forces within them. That line of thinking is not productive – nor does it correlate with the kind of advanced teaching you find in rigorous writing programs that attempt to foster creativity. A solid base of skills is essential for true creativity and those skills must be firmly established before demands for creative writing are made. At the same time, it is important to make a distinction that is often overlooked.

There is a vast difference between self-directed activity and teacher-directed activity. If children independently choose to put effort into an area such as creative writing, they should be encouraged to follow their passion. Teacher-directed activity is a very different matter (e.g., “write a story that….”). Then the children are meant to fulfill the demands imposed by others. Those sorts of demands should not be made unless and until the children have been given the instruction necessary for them to acquire the skills needed to carry out the activity in an effective manner.”

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