Many parents focus how they can get their children to start reading first, assuming that the other literary skills like grammatical understanding, spelling and self-expression will automatically come into play along the way. While this may hold true to a certain extent, it is also helpful for parents to introduce their children the foundations of writing in their early years.
We asked Mr Cameron Mitchell, Academic Director at I Can Read, for useful tips on how to encourage children to enjoy putting their pens to paper.
1. When can a child learn to write?
Children are ready to begin writing when they have developed a strong literacy foundation and phonological awareness – this includes knowledge of sounds (first, middle and last), and direction of text (left to right). Children also need to understand that the text that they read and write presents a message.
There is no ‘one rule fits all’ scenario when it comes to reading and writing. Every child is an individual when it comes to their learning journey, and will be ready at different stages. Don’t pressurise your child to write before they are naturally ready. It is important for parents to know that making mistakes is an essential part of learning to write, so don’t discourage your child in their progress by being too critical of their efforts to try.
2. Which comes first – reading or writing?
Ideally, both reading and writing develop simultaneously at the same time. As children learn the individual sounds represented by letters, they are beginning to learn to read words.
3. What are the foundational skills required for writing?
I believe the number one need is for parents to read to and with their children. This exposes children to the text and the way words are used to communicate a message. The acquisition and practice of developing fine motor skills are also important, such as mastering the tripod grip. Children must develop the ability to control a pencil to form letters and words.
4. What are ways to encourage children to enjoy writing?
Providing interesting experiences is important to help stimulate your children’s imagination and ideas about what to write. For example, you could plan a trip to the park or the beach, and then talk with your child about what they have seen and how it made them feel. Expose your child to new vocabulary to help them describe what they have experienced, and encourage them to put those words to paper if they are ready to do so.
As a parent model writing with your child at home. Let them see you writing, and explain what you have written to them. For example, show them your grocery lists, or read them snippets from your journal. For children who have already begun writing simple sentences, encourage them to keep a journal. They don’t have to write long essays – just a few sentences to describe memorable events from their day.
By Dorothea Chow
This is part of The New Age Parents “How To Raise A Child” series. Read other parts of the series here:
How To Raise A Child Who Loves Nature
How To Raise A Child Who Loves Reading
How To Raise A Child Who Loves School
How To Raise A Child Who Loves Their Sibling
How To Raise A Child Who Loves Learning
How To Raise A Child Who Loves To Eat Nutritious Food
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