Motivating Kids

Writer and comedian, Oscar Kightley shares a moment with Otaki College year seven pupil, Hayley Esslemont during the Kapiti Kid's Motivation Trust writing project at the college
Writer and comedian, Oscar Kightley shares a moment with Otaki College year seven pupil, Hayley Esslemont during the Kapiti Kid’s Motivation Trust writing project at the college

How do you encourage children to write stories— sit them down with Oscar Kightley for a couple of hours and you would be amazed at their ideas and stories and that yes, they can write.

The 50 or so Otaki children crowded into the college library, most with electronic ipads to work on. Oscar started by telling them a little about himself and his favourite place to be— libraries! Then it was down to work and he and the kids created a long list of feelings, ideas, things they like and don’t like. With the blackboard list completed — “you’ve got what it takes to be a writer” he excitedly told the rather bemused kids.

He then told them about arriving in New Zealand from Samoa with his mum at age four, being very shy and not knowing any English. Over the years he learned to love reading and loved writing, “I learnt the power of books,” he said. “I got into writing, journalism and movies and tv— with BroTown and Sione’s Wedding!

After that it was time for the kids to go back to work. He asked about the type of books they liked reading— they open a whole spectrum or genre in themes. “I love writing, using my imagination,” he said. The kids gave their ideas about writing: writing about anything can express yourself, express your imagination, it helps you let go of feelings, create new dimensions were a few of their thoughts. They were then sent off to work in pairs writing about some pictures that they were given. They were to use two words from the first list they had created on the blackboard, using them to express emotion or ideas. After 20 minutes several read back their pieces.

Part two was time for individual work, to write a story around themselves and their world to be finished in 35 minutes. Most settled quickly to the task, a few seemed to find it more difficult.

“I take writing very seriously and you have taken this seriously and with respect. I like the sound of you working on your stories,” he encouraged the kids at the end of the session. “Thank you for being here.”

The Auckland based playwright, actor, director and comedian, Oscar was in Kapiti at the beginning of this school term, with the Kapiti Kids Oscar Kightley Project, organised by the Kapiti Kids Motivation Trust. Trust leader Roger Booth said the kid’s writing project, working with the school children in years five to eight along the Kapiti Coast.

About 300 children will produce their second piece of writing and Oscar would be reading them all and select about 60 which would be published in the three Kapiti newspapers and read on three local radio stations and be displayed in the four Kapiti libraries,” he said. If they got the funding applied for these would be made into an anthology.

The workshop at Otaki College involved years seven and eight pupils from Te Horo and Otaki schools and Otaki College and Waitohu’ School’s years five and six pupils. There would also be other workshops with pupils from Paraparaumu and Kapiti colleges.

Margaret Andrews