Reading, writing, and ‘rithmetic used to be called the 3 Rs—the three basic skills necessary for success in life. Your children’s teachers will thank you if you encourage your kids to write. Here are eleven ideas to help you:
- Child as young as two years old: Give her a pencil and paper and encourage her to “write”—even if it looks like scribbling. (Watch her to be sure she writes on the paper and doesn’t accidentally poke her eye.)
- Three years old: Go through a wordless picture book (preferably one you’ve “read” him before—a good one is Peter Spier’s Noah’s Ark) and ask him what’s happening in each picture.
- Four years old: Have her practice writing the alphabet and her name. (Call your local school and find out what handwriting model they use. I grew up with the Palmer method; my children were taught D’Nealian. You can find D’Nealian alphabets online. Make a sample for her to copy.)
- Four or five years old: Ask him to tell you a story. Write it down as your child dictates it. Then fold some paper into a booklet and rewrite the story with just a sentence or two per page. Make a construction paper cover for it, and staple it all together. Read the story to your child. (He may want you to read it over and over again, and may learn to read it himself so he can read it to his friends.) When your child has an adventure, or when your family goes on vacation, ask her to tell you what she did, and follow the same steps to record it for her.
- Four or five years old: Show the child how to copy a favorite book into a Word document. (My youngest daughter did this on her own with lots of her books and was a super-fast typist by the time she was seven.)
- For six-year-olds: Write part of a sentence on a piece of paper, and ask the child to complete it. My favorite food is _____. I saw a cloud that looked like a _____. When I grow up, I want to be _____. The thing I like most about Grandma is _____.
- Ask children to add items to the family grocery list.
- If your child likes a song, encourage him to write down the words.
- For young writers, content is what counts. Don’t bother correcting spelling before second grade, or grammar before fourth grade.
- Share letters and emails from friends and relatives, and let your kids write replies. Have your children write thank-you notes for Christmas and birthday gifts.
- Give your child writing gifts: multi-point and mechanical pencils; pens and markers in different colors; lots and lots of paper in all shapes, sizes, and colors; a dictionary appropriate to the child’s age; a journal or diary.
Do you have some suggestions to add? Share in the comments below.