By maintaining awareness and using a little creativity, parents can support their child’s writing development in a number of simple ways.
1. Make Reading A Priority
Children who are exposed to reading early and often are more likely to develop good writing skills later in life. Read together daily. Surround children with a wide variety of books, visiting the local library often to explore new books and subjects. Notice which classroom themes capture a child’s interest and expand on those themes at home with related reading.
2. Make Reading Interactive
When reading together, ask questions about the story or pictures. Discuss the characters and make predictions about what will happen next. Such interactive reading creates a richer experience that enhances learning and promotes a love of reading.
3. Provide A Place To Write
Be sure children have a place to write. A good writing surface is a smooth, flat table or desk. Make sure that lighting is adequate.
4. Provide Materials
Provide plenty of paper, pens, pencils and crayons. Note cards, stationary and notepads with fun designs are especially appealing to children. Materials should always be available and easily accessible for use during spontaneous play.
5. Encourage Writing Activities
Suggest that young children dictate stories. Composing their thoughts and expressing themselves orally is an important first step to writing. Telling stories through pictures is another great activity that promotes expression. Ask children to make lists, or keep a journal. Young children can keep picture journals. Give emerging writers words and sentences to copy.
6. Write Letters
Help your child develop a letter-writing relationship. Writing to a pen pal allows a child to practice writing with purpose about topics that interest them. Letters children receive help expand reading skills and allow children to learn about others. A pen pal living in another state or country provides an opportunity to discover information about new places. Children may feel more confident when writing to someone they know, so relatives and friends are ideal first pen pals. Even young children can engage in a pen pal relationship by drawing pictures and dictating letters to a parent.
7. Play Word Games
Many games and puzzles help build vocabulary along with reading and writing fluency. Most toy stores carry a variety of board and card games containing word play. Try working together on crossword puzzles and anagrams designed for children. Kids may also enjoy word games available online or designed for electronic game systems.
8. Be Responsive
Respond to the ideas a child communicate through writing, drawing or spoken words. Focus on what the child is expressing rather than on penmanship, spelling or other aspects of technique. Show interest and offer positive comments.
9. Check Homework
Help reinforce classroom learning by checking a child's homework for spelling and punctuation errors. Advise children writing reports at home to complete a first-draft, then help them check spelling, capitalization and punctuation before completing a final copy.
10. Take Time To Talk
Encourage kids to express themselves by talking with them about anything and everything. A great way to get kids talking is to create a jar of conversation starters filled with interesting questions and topics. Start a dinnertime tradition of discussing the day’s highs and lows. Spend time talking in the car or while cooking together. Practicing verbal expression will help kids learn to express themselves effectively in writing.
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