In our last blog in the Literacy at Home series, we discussed ways you can help your younger child learn to read at home. Just like you can support your child's growth in learning to read, you can also help to facilitate the early writing process. Here are 6 ways to help your child develop those early writing skills at home.
The act of reading is one of the most powerful ways to help your child as they are learning to write. Exposing your child to books helps strengthen your child's vocabulary, imagination, and sense of story. Additionally, time spent with books helps your child discover spelling patterns, grammar, syntax, etc. Reading and writing have a strong, reciprocal relationship that helps build both skills simultaneously.
Drawing Is Writing
It is also important to make space for the act of drawing. Drawing is an important component in the development of early writing skills. The art itself is a form of prewriting. Before children have a solid grasp on letter formation, they will communicate their thoughts via illustrations. This thought to paper process mirrors that which your child will begin to do with letters, so it is important to practice the process. Once your child becomes more fluent in putting letters, words, and sentences together, don't be too quick to dismiss the drawing process. Having your child draw first is a great way to elicit the ideas they wish to put on paper and can often help with the overall act of idea generation and story creation.
Practice Letter-Sound Connection
In building your child's early literacy skills, you will want to make sure that you are establishing the connection between letters and sounds. For example when your child is learning to write the letter P, they also need to learn that P makes the "p" sound. Conversely, when sounding out letters, if your child knows a word begins with the "p" sound, they will be able to write the letter P because of this connection. Of course there are letters that have multiple sounds they can make, but always focus on the most basic sound when first practicing. Try to incorporate that sound connection as much as possible when reviewing letters as opposed to your child just naming them.
Understand Early Writing
Don't be alarmed if your child's first attempts at writing look more like Egyptian hieroglyphics than the English language. Writing. Is. Hard. Not every child develops their writing at the same pace. It is also important to understand that the English language is also incredibly challenging as well. Our letter sounds and spelling patterns can be complex. It is completely normal for your child's writing to be incorrectly spelled, but phonetically logical. For example: "We wnt to thu bech." for "We went to the beach." Finally, do not be alarmed if your child is reversing letters still. This can be common in many children through 2nd grade, and not necessarily a sign of dyslexia or other issues.
For many children, writing can start to feel taxing very early on. The act of putting thoughts onto paper is actually highly involved and utilizes many different processes simultaneously. Keeping it fun and creative can help your child associate writing with fun. Have your child practice writing letters in different substances such as shaving cream, paint, sand, pudding, etc.
Create Authentic Tasks
In addition to making learning to write fun, you also want to start to introduce why we write. Writing is a form of communication, gratitude, recollection, and recording thoughts and memories. Showing your child the purpose of learning to write will bring more meaning than just learning to write letters on paper. Examples of real world writing tasks you can share with your child include:
- Table place cards
- Daily journals
- Song writing
Learning to write can be so fun and fulfilling for your child. It can bring them a sense of pride and accomplishment as they learn to navigate this new form of expression and communication. Understanding how early writing is expressed, as well as keeping things fun and creative can turn learning to write into a whole family experience.