Does your preschooler like to scribble, make marks that look like letters, and play with writing? Most young children experiment with writing long before they learn to read. Supporting your child's writing at home is a great way to foster his/her development in this area.
Here are eight ways to help your child learn about and practice writing:
Write in front of your child and talk about it. Whether writing a shopping list, a thank you note, or an email, explain what you are doing. Ask your child what to add to the list, or what to say in the thank you note or e-mail.
Invite your child to dictate stories. While playing together, encourage your child to tell you a story about where the cars and trucks are going or who lives in the Lego house. Write down exactly what she says. Read it aloud afterward. Suggest to your child that she draws some pictures to illustrate her story.
Create greeting cards for special occasions. Provide paper and crayons or markers so your child can make cards, and then “sign” his or her name when finished. Show your child old cards with phrases like “I love you,” or “Get well soon” to write on their cards.
Create an “office” for your child.Gather different kinds of paper, envelopes, pencils and pens, stickers and labels. Place them in a basket near a desk or table or other comfortable place for writing. Add interesting items like address and date books, calendars or an old computer keyboard.
Involve your child in writing while running errands. Offer a pad and pencil and suggest to him or her to make a “reverse shopping list”—a list of things you have already bought or placed in your cart.
Display your child’s writing in a special place.Hang your child’s work on the refrigerator, a bedroom door, or a cork board. Scan the writing and send it to other family members. You will be telling your child that his or her writing is important and worthy of being shared.
Take it outside! Let your child write or draw with chalk on sidewalks or fences (chalk can be easily washed/brushed off!). Or, simply use old paint brushes and water and let your children "paint" on the sidewalk. You can also fill a backpack with writing tools and paper and take it with you while you are "on the go." Whether its a short car ride or stop on a nature walk, encourage your child to write or draw what they see.
Talk with your child's teacher. To learn what is developmentally appropriate for each age group in the emerging writing skills continuum, ask your child's teacher. S/he will be able to provide insight and can recommend additional activities based on your individual child's skill level.
Make writing an everyday part of your children’s lives at home, and encourage all writing efforts. Remember that the first step in learning to write is those first scribbles!