Your child needs to understand that writing is a way of saying on paper the things we otherwise think to ourselves or say out loud. Letters on a page mean the same thing as words they have heard spoken. As we rely more and more on our smartphones and tablets for simple writing tasks, we are no longer modelling writing as we once did. More than ever, we need to make an effort to teach our children the why of writing.
- Print has a message.
- The message stays the same over time.
- Groups of letters make words.
- Groups of words make sentences.
- The spaces between words mark the end of one word and the beginning of another.
- Sentences have end marks (punctuation). There are different kinds (.,!?) for different purposes.
- In English, print goes from left to right, top to bottom.
- Books have special features such as a front and back cover, a title, text and/or pictures. We handle them in a certain way to use them (start right-side up at the front cover, turn pages in order, etc.).
The Importance of a Regular Reading Habit
From Squiggles to Letters - A Natural Progression
Look for Ways to Practice Fine Motor Skills
- Look for ways in your daily activities that involve writing (making a grocery list, writing a note) and include your child in what you're doing.
- Use pen and paper more often to model, rather than using your smartphone.
- Include your child in observing, discussing, and creating (drawing, scribbling, writing).
- Use craft materials to make letters and words.
- Use your child's own name to model activities:
- Help your child trace stencils to print their name; cut out letters and decorate them with crayons, glitter etc.
- Have your child follow the shape of the stencilled letters to make their name with modelling clay.
- Have your child practice spelling their name out loud.
- With hand-over-hand modelling, help your child to practice printing their name, thinking aloud as you guide their hand. For example, for upper case T, you might say, "T is long and skinny (as you make the stroke downward) and wears a flat hat" (as you make the stroke across the top).
-- Caron Bell, PhD, Early Childhood Development and beginwithbooks.org volunteer