Ideas to Encourage Children to Write
Parents often ask how they can encourage their child to write. Like so many other aspects of learning, the ability to write is often effected by other stages of development like attention to task, fine motor development, letter and sound knowledge and their own motivation.
Writing can be really difficult task for children when they are learning. Not only are they thinking of what to write, but they are also thinking of what letters and sounds are in the word, how to produce the letters and then where to place them on the writing surface (e.g. paper). Before writing can become more automatic there are many other activities that can facilitate success.
- Reading to your child will help not only give them ideas for writing, but provide a framework and example of how write. Reading models sentence structure and grammar and well as the process of reading left to right with return and also 1-1 word correspondence.
- Providing a variety of fine and gross motor tasks will also build endurance for writing tasks. These include finger strength and finger isolation activities. Without exposure to and practice of these activities, writing endurance is significantly reduced.
- It is important to praise all attempts when children are first learning to write. Correcting spelling and grammar can only become a focus once they are motivated and having-a-go otherwise they are likely to be easily disheartened when they are always being corrected. It’s OK to scribe and have them copy, or spell a word for them in the early stages. It is all about success and encouragement!
- Providing a space where your child can easily have access to pencils and paper is really important. If they are not freely available, within eyesight, they are not as likely to be used. However, providing equipment and resources alone is not enough. Without purpose and modelling of how to use them appropriately, the resources become redundant, which leads to activity idea 1.
These are just some of the many activities I have found that may be useful to support your young writer.
1. Find any opportunity you can to model writing behaviours, preferably on a daily basis. These may include having your child help you:
- write a shopping list – let them have a go, use the packaging to help them find the words, draw a picture of the item
- write their name or a short message on greeting cards
- write a short thank you note to someone
- write the names of their friends at school. You will be amazed at how well they know them, even if it is the first few letters!
- add something extra to a letter or note you have written
2. Find interesting things to write with and surfaces to write on
- a small amount of sand in a tray and write letters, small words
- play dough letters
- water and a paint brush (watch how quickly it dries on a hot day!)
- wet or dry thick chalk on pavement or a chalk board
- thick, thin, metallic, water colour pencils, pens, crayons on a variety of surfaces e.g. paper, cardboard
- a small amount of paint in a zip lock bag and a cotton bud
- writing words and letters in shaving cream spread on a table
- writing mystery words. Use a light coloured oil pastel or candle to write, then cover in water colour paint to reveal the writing.
3. Use other equipment to produce writing other than pens and pencils.
- magnetic letters
- cookie cutters
- letter beads
- magnetic sketch boards e.g. Megasketch
- iPad, computer, other typing devices
4. Find things to label
- build a cardboard box cubby and give it a name
- play shops and label the items to sell
- have a tea party for toys and write name tags
- write up a weekly schedule and add activities in for the days and display
5. Copy from favourite books, DVD covers, other written text
- children often have a favourite book they like to read and can write text from it
6. Make your own book
- on the weekend/ holidays/ birthday/ special event take photos or draw pictures and add a caption or sentence. These are great to read back later. Perhaps others in the family can add their own pages so it is a team effort.
Developing a sense of enjoyment from writing is a great place to start. Find opportunities wherever you can.
Teacher – The Glenleighden School