Encouraging Writing

Top tips to develop writing with your children. When should you start? What can you do? What is the best way to help?

There is a lot you can do to help develop good writing with your children. For some it might be a long slow process, but they will get there. Remember, all children develop at their own rates. that is why I'm not putting down any recommended age and all that kind of thing that schools seemed to be obsessed about. But I will put the top tips in some kind of order of progression.

Tiny still struggles with writing, and he will for a long time even though he's getting older. But these ideas have helped me along the way. I hope they help you too.

So here goes -

Let them see you write shopping lists / letters /

e-mails/ lists and cards etc. Model the writing, so they can see what your doing.

Provide a variety of materials like crayons / markers and pencils.

Set up play corners (home corners as they are called in early years settings). This can be the vet's, doctors, office, or home. Whatever you decide, make sure there are plenty of opportunities to write, and make sure there is plenty of paper and pens available.

Try to provide a special quiet space for your child to write.

Display your child's name as often as possible e.g. Sean's Room.

Teach them the letters in their own name. Demonstrate writing or painting their name and encourage them to work alongside you.

Look together at alphabet books.

Write messages to them or reminders for something they have to do. This could be as simple as - tidy bedroom - with a picture to go with it.

Encourage them to write their own name. Also, get them used to the computer early and encourage them to type their own name. (make sure you have set up a large colourful font).

Ask them to read back their own messages to you.

Respond to the message - not the grammar, handwriting and spelling.

Look for opportunities for purposeful writing activities at home - writing birthday and greeting cards, notes, telephone messages, their own shopping list.

Encourage them to use a word processor.

Encourage your child to keep a diary.

Support your child's spelling attempts.

Encourage him or her to have a go at spelling difficult words.

Use lap-books or scrapbooks to support their topic/hobby/special interest.

Help them to learn how to use a dictionary and thesaurus.

Help your child fill in personal details on forms that you have made.

Try crossword puzzles and find the word puzzles

Provide a range of attractive writing materials - coloured pens, fancy paper etc.

Encourage them to write 'Thank You' notes for gifts they receive.

Show your child that you value writing by letting them see you writing.

Praise their efforts.

Encourage them to have a pen-pal.

Have fun with posters and bubble writing.

Using ICT

Some of our children find writing very hard for many reasons. But it is still an important skill and one that we should encourage. But now, in our modern age, we need more than ever to teach them writing skills on the computer.

At every opportunity, get them to type up their work. Teach them how to use a word processing program, or a presentation program.

We use Power Point a lot because it means he can set out the page easily and add images with ease. So far, he has used Power Point to make newspaper pages, reports, recipes, and story boards.

We use Word to type up our play scripts, stories, list and tables.

He has set up his own website which encourages him to do a lot more planning and writing. Yes, it is safe, because nobody. apart from family. have his website address.

Finding out about different styles of writing.

We learn how to set out our writing in different styles as and when we need too. Having a framework to hang your writing on helps a lot of children (and adults) with their writing. You only have to look at how many adults use a template for a CV to know that.

What a framework does, is break down the huge writing task, into small doable bits.

We also use mind-maps and story boards to plan out work - in that way we can do the writing task over a few days, rather than trying to finish it all at once.

And finally, try to go with their interest and share the writing task.

It will all be worth it in the end.

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