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NaNoWriMo's Young Writers Program may be just what your child needs

Caroline Duda is a Senior Marketing Coordinator for Varsity Tutors, a live learning platform that connects students with personalized experiences to accelerate academic achievement.

When we think of November, our minds often travel to Thanksgiving traditions, as well as the slowly approaching winter vacation. November can seem endless, and as the weather turns colder, it can also seem quite unpleasant! But November does have its perks, and they extend beyond delicious pumpkin pie and several days' reprieve from your student's school schedule.

For both child and parent, NaNoWriMo can enliven this time period. It is a wonderful way to engage in a project together that is both educational and fun. If you are new to this program, here is what you need to know before your student begins.

What is NaNoWriMo?

While NaNoWriMo may seem like a string of random letters, it is, in fact, an acronym for National Novel Writing Month. NaNoWriMo participants attempt to write an entire novel (or novel-like project) in a single month. Writers may plan their works (i.e. brainstorm or outline) in advance, but they cannot start their actual manuscripts until the challenge officially begins.

When does NaNoWriMo take place?

Each year from Nov. 1 to Nov. 30.

Who can participate in NaNoWriMo?

In short, anyone who can write! While the parent group is intended for individuals who are 18 years of age and older, NaNoWriMo's Young Writers Program is perfect for children and teenagers. Adults must write a minimum of 50,000 words, but grade school participants may select a word-count goal that is appropriate for their age, their familiarity with and love of writing, and their schedule. The only requirement? Students' goals must encourage them to stretch their writing abilities. Like any good academic challenge, NaNoWriMo is meant to be enjoyable, but not too simple.

What NaNoWriMo resources exist?

Your child wishes to take part in NaNoWriMo's Young Writers Program? Excellent! If you are unsure how to best support your student in this endeavor, fear not. NaNoWriMo offers a number of great resources. Participants can download a free novel-writing workbook (for elementary, middle or high school levels), as well as connect with other young writers via private message boards. All you need do is cheer your child on.

Is NaNoWriMo free?

Yes!

What are the benefits of NaNoWriMo?

The ability to write well and to think creatively are central skills in many subjects, not just English. Consider, for example, that your student might need to design and document an experiment in chemistry class or solve a proof in geometry. Both attributes are honed through practice, and NaNoWriMo provides your child with an entire month of that! It is also an excellent opportunity to learn how to recognize grammatical and spelling mistakes and how to correct them, as well as to develop a unique voice.

If your student struggles with time management, NaNoWriMo can teach her to manage her various commitments. Better yet, a child with weaknesses in any of these areas, whether she is in fifth or 11th grade, will likely observe gradual progress in her skills. This can lead to a tremendous sense of accomplishment and a surge of self-confidence, which can easily be the best reward of all!

For more tips and strategies to help your student succeed in school, visit www.varsitytutors.com.

Photo credit: Moonsun1981/Wikipedia

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