Two writers live in this house, and because of this, people sometimes ask me to recommend a creative writing program for their child. To which I have learnt to say, gently, "Oh, there are many good writing programs out there but we don't actually teach creative writing to our kids."
It's not that I actively discourage them from writing, and they have often written - letters, diary entries, stories, poetry, even plays - just that I don't teach them.
It's like painting, or music composition or mime. Everyone should be able to appreciate an art form, to have a language to think about it, discuss it, enjoy it...but we don't all have to produce art. It's nice to have the opportunity to participate in art but it isn't compulsory, or at least it isn't compulsory to participate to a professional standard.
How can I give my school-age kids the language to enjoy creative writing without making them do it ? Well, really easily, just by reading to them. Reading often, different forms, different voices, always of a high literary standard and by writers who know their craft. It sinks in, it changes their brains for the good, truly it does. It gives their minds a variety of models to draw on if they feel the urge to create. Writers need to be readers first, and they need to be good, careful, close readers for a long time if they are to write well.
Maybe my child is never going to write a poem. So what ? Maybe she'll be a reader of poetry and buy the books of poets who really want to write. I cannot make my child love poems by forcing her to write one.
I'm not talking here about written expression. Everyone needs to develop the skill of expressing their thoughts clearly, orally and in written form. A story can be narrated. Essay skills can be taught. That's different. It's a skill at school level and not a calling of the type that talented adult academics and essayists develop and display.
What about the child who wants to write, who comes to you asking for resources in this area ? Well, keep them supplied with pencil and paper, read to them, choose great books for them to read, take them to the library often, set up a book club or a writers circle for them, give them an audience (let them blog or read their poem at a family event or host a reading of their play or find out about short story competitions or help them send their novel to an agent, find them a writing mentor or send them to college to do a writing degree), just don't make them slave over a creative writing program. It's expensive, it kills the joy, it gets them running before they can walk, it's unnecessary.
Especially for homeschoolers, it's just another area for conflict and stress. "No, you may not play until you've finished that haiku!" Ridiculous. If you have money to spend on resources, buy more books. Buy a book that teaches you how to think about books. Remember that writers have a vested interest in getting you to attend their workshops/buy their 'how to' book/use their program. It's how they make a living. I sympathise with that. Making a living for most artists is hard.
Yet a child's imagination, their response to art, needs to live as well and the writer's mind lives and grows best in the pages of other writers, and in the consideration of those pages. And if your child doesn't write, they will surely grow up to read. Just as the music you play to your children, the galleries you take them to, may not produce a cellist or a sculptor, your children may never write a creative word. Despite that, if they have the exposure and the tools to appreciate the creative word, their lives and the world will never be the poorer for it.