Writing comes naturally to children — they love marking things up and expressing themselves. Here are six ways to help your preschooler hang on to her love of writing
Keep the pressure off
To raise a writer, give your child every opportunity to put pen to paper, chalk to sidewalk, paint to easel, and marker to poster board, but make sure it’s all in fun. Your preschooler is just beginning to understand how words are used to convey thoughts, and is still developing the fine motor skills needed to form letters. Your goal, at this stage, is to encourage her so she’ll realize that writing is an activity with its own unique rewards.
Experiment with writing tools
Let her try all different types of writing implements — crayons, chalk, pens, pencils, paints. Keep in mind that she may have an easier time using “fat” crayons or pens than skinny pencils. Even dough and modeling clay are writing tools — you can roll them out and form rope letters (this helps develop her motor skills as well). Keep these supplies in a drawer she can reach easily.
Experiment with surfaces
For starters, white paper is a must. Big pads of newsprint are inexpensive, and children love having a big surface to fill in. But don’t forget about chalkboards, sidewalks, and dry erase boards. If you’re concerned about the mess, set up a kid-size table outside or in a section of your kitchen or playroom where the splatter won’t matter. And buy water-soluble markers and erasable pens for easy cleanup.
Model good writing habits
Let your child see you writing on a daily basis: making to-do lists, writing emails or letters, keeping your own journal. Young children are copycats: If you love to write, chances are your child will learn to share your enthusiasm.
Use the computer
Log on and let your child compose words on the computer (depending on her age and dexterity you may have to help her). Feel free to let her click the keyboard even if she’s too young to spell actual words. While she’s not actually crafting letters with her own hands when she types, she’s still practicing writing. She’s learning that letters combine into words and phrases that convey thoughts.
Show an interest in what your child writes or draws, even if it just looks like scribbling to you. Be specific: Saying “You’re really learning how to write your name” is much more meaningful to your child than “You are such a good writer!” And remember to compliment her on the process of writing as well as the result. That is, say things like, “You really take your time when you write,” or “I can see how much care you took with this word.”
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