I love seeing Immy turn to writing again and again as a means of communicating. As her confidence as a beginning writer grows so do the number of love notes, homemade books and five year old style to-do lists I find scattered around our home. Today I want to share some of the strategies I have used as both a parent and an educator to support beginning writers, and some fun activity ideas to get them writing too.
Supporting Young Children as They Learn to Write
- Ensure writing materials are readily available and that children feel free to use these materials in other places when engaging in writing that relates to either their play or real life experiences.
- Encourage children to write by providing many authentic and meaningful reasons for them to write.
- Be an example – write in front of your children so that they see that writing is purposeful and useful, and used in everyday life. Sometimes, take a moment to say aloud what you are thinking as your write – whether it be the sounds of a word or a comment such as, “I know how to quickly write the word ‘the’ as it is a word that I writer a lot.”
- Support your child as they make attempts to write on their own – because confidence is so important for the beginning writer, it is important that adult’s provide support without taking over or assuming control. Support can take many forms, including;
– Providing an alphabet chart or relevant printed words (names, topical words, high frequency words) that are easily accessible to the child as needed.
– Helping children to slowly say a word so that they can more clearly hear the sounds they are attempting to write.
– Accepting a young child’s approximations of words – even when they have misrepresented sounds or missed some sounds out completely.
– Helping preschoolers/kindergartners and first graders to identify a blend or unfamiliar combination of letters that they may not have been formally introduced to yet.
– Providing many opportunities for children to have fun writing high frequency sight words once they are learning these as part of a formal, school program.
8 Fun Activities to Get Beginning Writers Writing
Letter writing provides a wonderful, motivating context to engage children with writing and it is easy to create a range of invitations to write based around letters and letter writing…
1. Start by adding a postbox and some simple note cards or small notepad to an imaginative play area or writing table.
2. Take the experience one step further by creating a series of simple letterboxes for each child or family member, or even a collection of favourite toys.
3. Create an ongoing mail exchange with one of my favourite, fun literacy tools – a Letter from a Character.
4. With Christmas in the not too distant future, print out one of Kate’s Dear Santa designs and get to work on this years wish list! You can find a link to the printable and the details for receiving a letter back from Santa within Australia in this post – Letters to Santa.
Engaging children with other purposeful and meaningful writing opportunities is something that can be easily incorporated into everyday life – from adding their own suggestions to the family’s meal plan or shopping list to emailing Dad at work with a reminder or a question. Or for something a little more involved, why not try one of these ideas;
5. For children who enjoy time outdoors and learning about nature why not introduce the idea of creating their own field journal.
6. Provide a journal or notebook for children to record their memories of a family vacation or special event, to make books of their own.
7. A card or invitation making station ties in perfectly with holidays and family celebrations. Children can create event invitations, Christmas or birthday cards, thank you notes and/or place cards.
8. Allowing a child to start a blog certainly provides an authentic purpose for writing, albeit with some privacy and supervision considerations for parents and teachers – many of which were discussed by SquiggleMum and in the comments on this post – Would you let your child start a blog?
Are you supporting a beginning writer? What most motivates your child to pick up a pencil and write?