You can tell if you’re writing something that’s interesting to other people because they will either comment on your post or they will share your post. I have found that commenting means You make a good argument, but I don’t agree. And sharing on Facebook means This is what I believe as well. But either way, anyone acknowledging your writing—reading what you write closely enough to have a response—is so incredibly gratifying.

Stanford conducted a study of freshmen and found that kids performed best when they were writing for the Internet. This generation is not nearly as motivated to work hard to impress a single person, the teacher. And this gap seems logical; it is much more exciting to write for a group of people than just one. Also, Generation Y is more apt to care about their social media image than their GPA. And they are probably correct, because your online persona follows you forever, but your GPA stays in school.

Here’s why kids write at such a higher level when they write online.

1. The topic is interesting. You pick the topic that you want to write about and you pick a topic that you think other people want to read about. With those two constraints it’s pretty certain you’ll be writing about something fun.

2. You get feedback right away by watching traffic. It’s hard to know where you stand if just one person reads what you wrote. School feedback is a one-way system: here’s your grade. Online feedback is a conversation where you are expected to engage, which means the ideas are dynamic and do not die once you submit them to readers.

3. You are forced to have an honest, well-reasoned opinion. Information is there for everyone to see, whenever they want. So a paper full of facts is useless in the Information Age. Today opinion derived from those facts matters so much more, and a blog post (more than a classroom paper) forces you to choose an opinion that matters. Otherwise, no one will read.

The great thing about writing blog posts is that you don’t need a blog. This blog, for example, is full of guest posts, and most blogs accept guest posts if they are written well. Your kids could be published writers, right now, instead of playing the role of student, learning a type of writing that only academics find useful. If you’re looking to develop skills in your kids that will help them find their first jobs, writing for an online audience is second only to programming.

Which is why I think more kids should be taking the course that starts tonight: Write Great Blog Posts.

In that four-day course, kids will find adults taking their writing seriously, so kids will think about what it means to write well. We are doing live critiques on the last night, and that’s the way I learned to write—by hearing someone critique other peoples’ writing. It’s easier to see the flaws in someone else’s writing than in our own. But seeing those flaws in someone else’s writing is a path to improving your own.

I wish I had had a course like this when I was a kid. Really.

Today is your last chance to sign up for the live class


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4 replies
  1. YesMyKidsAreSocialized
    YesMyKidsAreSocialized says:

    My kids blog privately using kidblog. They really like it and can use their ipads for it.

  2. Penelope Trunk
    Penelope Trunk says:

    Oh. Thanks for letting me know about that site. Of course the privacy issue is not at the top of my mind because my own blog is so public, but I wonder if telling my kids they have privacy would help.

    My kids are so used to our public life — being recognized in public, doing phone interviews about the family, etc — that I am not actually sure what they think of privacy. I’m going to ask them about kidblog…


  3. Mel
    Mel says:

    My kids have YouTube channels. It’s not writing, but they are all about checking how many views they get and how many “likes.” I get how feedback improves their work, but I when you don’t get much feedback (it’s a big digital world out there and hard to find a little kid talking about Lego), it can be a little discouraging. So, we try to frame it as this is a time to practice, practice, practice. And I try to get them to believe that frequent practice of creativity is more important than getting comments and likes (but on my own blog, interaction is what I am striving for!).

  4. Joe Weeder
    Joe Weeder says:

    This is a great article Penelope. Blogging is an amazing way for kids to write and get better at it. I think with all types and styles of writing, kids need a real reason to write and one that drives their passion. Then they will want to write. Most kids in school absolutely hate writing because it is boring and mechanical and they are forces to write about things they have little to no interest in. My kids are still young but I am definitely eager to get my son started soon. He’ll probably want to blog about legos.

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