Just like reading, writing is a skill to nurture in young learners. Writing allows them to make a connection between written and spoken word. It also encourages them to develop their creative side, whether they are crafting a new story or writing a letter. Rather than just copying down words from a page, there are some fun and simple activities your child can do to become a better writer (even if they can’t read yet!).
TIPS FOR SUCCESS
Don’t worry about spelling. I know, this sounds awful! But encouraging a child to write means encouraging them to write. When they practice writing uninterrupted, their fluency in writing will improve. Think of this as a creative exercise, not a spelling or grammar lesson.
Be a scribe, not an editor. This goes with the above but especially when working with younger children who are not reading yet. When you offer to write down your child’s words, do just that. Write down what they say. They feel such pride in their words (even if the plot isn’t necessarily the easiest to follow!).
What you write with can be important. For younger children, writing in marker or pen is often the most successful. Yes, it can make a parent nervous to hand a 3 yr old a marker, but it’s a lot easier to write with than a crayon. They do not need as much hand strength to make an impression on the paper. Bottom line, do what you are comfortable with, but don’t be afraid to experiment with different options to see what your child prefers.
Paper or Computer? Both! In the real world, we use both to communicate. Paper is nice because it provides kids with a very tangible output of their work. They can hand it to someone, put it on the fridge, and access it easily themselves. Computers have made it easier for kids to create their own content, add pictures, use the voice-to-text features to write freely, and send their work to friends and family who may be far away. Again, do what is comfortable for you and your child.
Provide opportunities to write and share. When supplies are handy for writing, kids will write. Make a mini writing station, which could be a drawer in the kitchen or a fancy desk organizer or a box. It can include things like paper scraps,stickers, scissors, pencils, markers, and pens.
STORIES/COMICS Kids are natural storytellers. Model for them how to write a story by offering to be a scribe for their story. Invite them to add pictures to the story you make. Having “fancy” supplies like a stapler transform pieces of paper into a book. If you have a folder and a three hole punch, they can create a collection of stories that grows as they add more pages.
RECIPES Invite your child to cook with you. Point out the recipe and how it works. Invite them to create their own recipe for a family favorite. What ingredients do they need? How much? How does it get made?
GUIDES Kids love to be experts in their favorite subjects. Non-fiction writing is great for their brain and allows them to think concretely about complex subjects. What would they like someone to know? How does something work?
INVITATIONS Having a tea party? Write an invitation! Having a picnic? Write an invitation! Washing the dog? Write an invitation! Model what information they might want to include: time, place, dress, etc.
WRITE A LETTER Any time is a good time to send a letter! When they’re first practicing, don’t worry about how much your child writes or what they choose to write about. (My kids love letting their grandparents know what roadkill they last saw on a walk – Happy Birthday!). Letters need envelopes, so be sure to talk about how to address them. To make it easier, make labels for different people they might send letters to so that they are ready to go.
THE FAMILY THAT WRITES TOGETHER…Set an example! Send a letter, write a note, or even better, write together. Take turns writing a line of story to craft something truly fun.