I was in Dublin recently on a working holiday and during my lunch break each day, I took a walk through the city and visited my favourite coffee haunts. I’d taken this trip to prepare a Creative Writing Summer Camp for children, so at all times my mind was focused on children and the development of the imagination. I was seeking ideas on how I could inspire young children to use their imagination and be creative with language.
As I was having coffee one day and writing on my laptop outside a cafe in Temple Bar, a gentleman came over and asked me what I was doing. I told him about my idea for a Creative Writing Camp for children. He was fascinated and wanted to know more, so I told him my plan and explained that I was visiting the Dublin libraries and museums for ideas.
When I explained the benefits of Creative Writing for children, he asked if I might be interested in doing the same for a community in Cork. I said I would certainly consider it for next year and if the interest was generated I would be most willing to undertake such.
The following is what impressed him:
Creative Writing encourages children to use their imagination - not only is this fun but it teaches children to 'think outside the box'.
Creative Writing develops reading, writing and learning skills - While writing, children are exploring words and grammar: later in school life this will help broaden their thought process.
Creative Writing develops self-confidence and Identity - in writing, children learn about themselves and see that they have the ability to create something unique.
Creative Writing teaches children about Empathy - when writing about a character, the writer must decide how that character feels? How they behave? This encourages children to be empathetic towards others in real life.
Creative Writing provides an emotional outlet - children have the opportunity to express certain thoughts and ideas in a safe manner.
When we had finished talking another woman came along having heard our conversation. She said that she is unable to afford to send her daughter to a summer camp as both she and her husband are now unemployed. She thanked me for my discussion on creative writing with the gentleman and explained that she had not meant to eavesdrop but that she had gotten some inspiration from my talking. She had never thought about visiting libraries or museums with her daughter as she thought they would be boring.
The same lady is now making plans to take her daughter to the free libraries and museums over the holiday period. She is then going to encourage her daughter to write some stories about her visits and perhaps on other topics also. She says she never thought how a simple task of writing might help pass the time over the holidays and be advantageous for her future education also.
I left that day feeling really positive about myself. As I was planning a workload, someone else got ideas on how to entertain, spend quality time, and hopefully encourage a new hobby with her daughter. My heart skipped a beat as the lady walked away. I could already see the new spring in her step. I knew then that I had done a little good that day.
My visit to Dublin was focused on finding inspiration for children, but in the process, I succeeded in inspiring a parent. That to me, was a job well done.
Grainne McCool is a mum to three boys from Co. Donegal, who thinks parenting is a learning process in which you're never done learning.
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