We all want our children to learn and to be successful. And writing is a huge part of the process of learning and schooling. We might think that workbooks and writing practice pages are the best way to learn to write. Guess what? It isn’t!
Did you know that the best way for your child to learn to write is NOT to practice writing endless strings of letters and numbers but to actually “write” in her own way “for a purpose”. What does that mean? It means writing to share an idea, to express a feeling or thought. It means writing a shopping list for the grocers or a thank you note to the grand parents. It means writing name cards for the dining table, or writing a title for a painting.
Writing is a very useful tool. And when your child discovers that writing can be used to communicate she often will become much more interested in practicing it. Instead of the boredom of letter practice…she can practice letters by writing a list, a note, a card. It doesn’t matter if your child can spell or even writes the letters perfectly. The first step to writing is communicating. And this includes drawing and scribbling too.
Studies have shown that children need to understand the purpose of writing before they can truly understand what all those letters they are writing are for!
One of the best ways you can help your child is to model writing at home. Show your child a list you are making. Demonstrate writing a thank you note or message. Explain what you are doing and why.
Then set up an area in your home where your child can freely explore writing. Here are a few suggestions you can try in your home.
Set Up a Writers’ Workshop in your home!
Try these quick-and-easy suggestions to inspire your budding author.
1. Create a small writing area.This could be a shelf in the play area, your child’s room or your living room. Stock the shelf with a variety of papers, fat pencils and crayons. Add a designated space that is safe for your child to write. This should be uncluttered and saved just for this purpose. It could be a large tray that your child can take off the shelf and bring to a table or the floor to work.
2. Use whiteboards for experimenting with handwriting. These easy to write and erase boards are perfect for experimentation. Some children like to write wherever they are so these boards are perfect for portable practice. Your child can take the boardanywhere in the houseto experiment with writing motions such as circles and lines.The best thing is they aren’t messy!
3. Encourage your child to go on letter hunts around the house and the community. The firest step in writing is seeing.It is important for your child to see how letters are all around her. Invite her to write the words or letters she finds. Your child might go on a hunt for words that have the first letter of her name—or simply the letters and words that interest her.
4. Provide paper that will inspire all kinds of writing. You can offer your child envelopes and stationary for letter writing, greeting cards, recipe cards, and shopping lists. This will help your child see the purpose and meaning of writing.
5. Organize the papers. Use folders for different papers.Keep lined and unlined paper separated in different folders. Place cards and list papers in separate folders too. This helps your child see the purpose for each kind of paper. You’re your child will quickly learn where to find the paper she wants.
6. Create a “mini” self-service art area. As you know, art leads to writing and vice versa. It is helpful to have a small art area in or near your writing area. Consider including crayons, markers, rubber stamps and pads (alphabet stamps are great!), and glue sticks. Store everything in clear plastic bins, and keep at your child’s eye level.
7. Add alphabet examples. Look for sandpaper, block, foam, and rubber-stamp letters to the area. These will give your child good examples. Try hanging an “alphabet clothesline” with clips for each letter of the alphabet. Your child can clip on items finds to “illustrate” the letters.
8. Develop an author area every few months. Go to the library or the book store to choose an author to celebrate. Put out a collection of books by a favorite author. Encourage your child to use art and writing materials to create her own illustrated stories in the style of the author.
9.Cooperatively create a “word wall.”You can use a bulletin board or the front of your refrigerator for this! All children love to learn new words and often ask to see how they are written down. Whenever your child asks abpout a new word…write it down and hang it up for discussion and viewing!
10. Put away the worksheets! Your child will have much more fun and will learn more from this way of using writing than practicing it.