Writing is a priceless tool for children to master and use, just like reading is. The earlier they start writing words and sentences the more confident they will be on life’s journey. Many parents teach their young children how to read before they even enter kindergarten. But why not encourage them to write before and during their first year of formal schooling? Based on my thirty-three years of teaching elementary school, here is what I would recommend.
1. Children learn by example. To become a better reader or writer, children need to see their parents frequently reading and writing. If the atmosphere in the home is laden with books and active readers and writers, young children with want to explore books and writing. Children can become interested in books and writing through what they see and hear in their home and school environment.
2. When children enter school, they school be encouraged to use the school library, and the class library. If the classroom teacher doesn’t have a lending library in the room, perhaps you could volunteer to create one. Friends of the Public Library usually have fantastic sales on used books. I have bought full bags of books for one dollar. Many teachers offer a monthly Book Club order with paperback books at reasonable prices.
3. Children love to color. Encourage your child to color and write. They can start off by writing their name on each page they color as a gift for a person in the house or as a picture to be displayed on the fridge. Magnetic letters can also spell out names of family and friends.
4. Let your child be a list maker for what goes in the fridge and the kitchen cabinets. He or she can help with the weekly grocery list. At our local grocery children were offered a cookie, while shopping with mom or dad.
5. Reward your children for writing. Children love treats–chocolate chip cookies or lifesavers.You can reward them for writing their name or a couple sentences. Don’t underestimate the power of candy. I know a substitute teacher who shares treats with her students. When she walks into the classroom, they are happy to see her. Little things matter.