Encouraging Children to Write by Dan Gilbert

Posted by on Sep 19, 2011 in career, writing | 0 comments

Today’s post comes from Dan Gilbert of Primrose Schools, an early childhood education and child care services organization. They have schools across the country, and their mission is to “enable a growing number of individuals to achieve balanced success in learning and life by consistently delivering innovative, high-quality early education and child care services.” It’s a great mission, one that they incorporate into their Balanced Learning curriculum, so I was glad to pass along a few great reminders for encouraging writing skills in our kids. I especially liked his thought about encouraging kids to use electronic means of communication – something I forget about!

Encouraging a child to write long before any chance of perfection can be achieved is critical to a child’s writing development. From the earliest days children watch adults write everything from notes on the calendar to business letters. A child will often scribble as their first attempts at writing which is considered a form of emergent writing. Most often their first attempt at a writing letter is the first letter of their name, making it a success to celebrate and treasure.

“The first conscious attempts a child makes to write a letter are usually the first letter of his or her name.  To an adult, the attempts may only vaguely resemble the letter, but these are moments to cherish and celebrate.  What is the message they are trying to communicate?” asks Dr. Mary Zurn,( Dr. Z) vice president of education, Primrose Schools.   “Children watch adults as they write notes, checks, and stories, and they are eager to begin writing themselves. Early writing is oftentimes labeled ‘scribble writing’ and is considered a legitimate form of emergent writing,” says Dr. Z.

In the early stages of writing development it is very important not to focus on perfect penmanship. Pushing correct letter formation can discourage children, sending the message that it is more important to write perfectly than to be able to communicate in writing. This may lead to the children feeling that writing is too hard. Reinforcing the idea that writing is not the same as penmanship is very helpful. Writing should be presented to children as a fun way to express themselves. Gently guidance in obtaining an efficient pencil grip and proper letter formation is necessary however.

Encourage the children to communicate through writing. Writing stories and messages are an important part of their development. Below are a few tips that are sure to encourage the development of a child’s writing skills.

  • Keeping a good supply of paper and writing utensils available will create an environment conducive to creative writing. Allowing them free access to writing materials will encourage imaginative play such as school, office and house in which they will practice writing on their own. When an adult is writing children love to watch and often imitate what they see. Encourage the children to mimic the writing actions they see.
  • Much of our written communication today is by electronic devices whether email, texting or typewritten letters. In light of this fact, typing on a computer should be encouraged. Not having to correctly form the letters may make it easier for them to communicate their thoughts.
  • Read to the children. Make reading good children’s books part of the daily routine. As they see text placed with pictures in children’s books communicating their own ideas will become easier.

 Thanks Dan!

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