Don’t blink, or you may miss it! Your child’s writing skills may blossom sooner than you realize, or they may take more time to grow. Remember, it’s not a race. Don’t push your child into writing when they are not ready. Instead, get them started with drawing and coloring first. Once you see your child is taking off with coloring, they may be closer than you realize to writing words and sentences.
This blog post is very important to me since I have been teaching adolescents writing for almost twenty years. While teaching adolescents how to write essays is very different than teaching early writing, it still requires the same ingredients- modeling, modeling, and more modeling coupled with patience and some fun!
I would encourage you to have your child attend a preschool and kindergarten program even if it is just part-time to allow them to have more practice with structured activities that will help them with their early writing skills.
Early writing takes time just like riding a bike. It will come, but it will take some practice. When learning how to ride a bike, we will keep falling until we get it, but once we do, we take off! The same goes for early writing. Here are some tips that I recommend for teaching your child how to write. I will write another blog post about helping your teenager write those essays in another post.
I don’t know where your child is right now in their writing journey, but just start small. Color, color, and color some more. This will strengthen your child’s motor skills for actually writing. Do some drawings as well. Check out my blog post on “At Home Winter Activities for kids age 5-6” since there will be some tips there for art to get you started. Yes, I would start with arts and crafts first and get into writing out their shapes. Once your child can write out their shapes and have stronger motor skills with holding a colored pencil, they will be ready to start writing out their letters. This is when things start connecting.
Write the Alphabet in the Sky
Remember that your child is growing in their motor skills and still learning how to hold a colored pencil and marker. Be patient with them. Maybe they aren’t quite ready to write out their letters yet, so I would do tracing at this stage until they are ready. Trace, trace, and trace some more! Trace in different colors and do some fun drawings on the side! Write the alphabet in the sky by holding our your pointer finger and writing a letter in the air with large strokes. Have them do it with you so they get used to the movement. When they get to their paper, remind them of how we “travel” with our letters such as “up the mountain” or “down the hill” or “in this circle” or “back again”. By doing this traveling with letters together, they get more comfortable with the strokes of writing. I did this with my son just for fun, and I think he just thought it was silly. I had fun with it!
Use a Mini Whiteboard
Once they have drawing, coloring, and their shapes down, allow them to practice on a mini whiteboard with their letters. We would do this after breakfast each day with our sight word flash cards. Don’t do this on an empty stomach either. I always do these types of activities after eating or with a snack! Our favorite lately is hot cocoa with homework which always helps!
Add a Writing Wall
I got large white board sticky decals on Amazon and put it up in my son’s playroom. We had fun drawing, doing simple math, writing words for the day, practicing our shapes, and writing out letters or words. It made it more fun! Sometimes, we just played tic-tac-toe or made up stories to draw.
Combine Art and Music with Writing
You won’t regret this. Make art and writing go hand in hand. We would usually draw something then write about it. I would model it for him on his chalkboard easel and remind him of how the letters looked. I would also play music in the background. We enjoy the Study Instrumental music on Pandora.
Try out some art with writing then! Believe me, look how cute this is?! At age five, my son really took off with writing. Kids are also really good at reading music notes at this age. Get them also looking at music notes gradually at this age as well!
I have to admit that the one thing I truly appreciated about the closing of schools is that I was able to teach my son how to read and write during this time. I would have never been able to really do this if schools didn’t shut down. Of course, I could have done some of it, but it wouldn’t have been the same. After teaching for eighteen years with writing and reading with my students, it was a pleasure to get to teach my son in his early years of learning how to read and write. If this isn’t your thing, don’t worry since they will pick this up more from the instruction they get from their preschool, kindergarten, and first grade teacher.
I modeled writing for my son on his chalkboard easel and used white boards and lined paper, so it wasn’t anything complicated. I would encourage him to do tracing before writing everything out. My son does cursive now, but this is how he learned when he was four and five. So precious!
Use the Sidewalk for Spelling Practice
We always enjoy sidewalk poetry with our students, so why not try spelling words out on the sidewalk? We did this with his sight words as well, so he got more used to interacting with those words.
Get Them Writing For Their Gifts to Others
After my son’s Frosty party when he was five, I told him I wanted a paragraph for Christmas as my gift. I knew he was still five and learning his sentences, but I thought he could be up for this challenge since he was picking things up so quickly. He was very proud to present me with his first paragraph! I am happy to report that he does a writing for me now every Christmas and birthday ever since this started at age five. I’m not sure how long this tradition will continue, but I would be happy momma if he continued writing for gifts to others as he gets older.
Here were his first paragraphs at age five. So sweet! Anything to sneak in some writing, right?!
Your child may be interested in writing letters as gifts as they start writing more. Let them gift others with their writings!
Use a Santa Mailbox and Create a Letter Writing Station
In the spirit of giving (writing), let us encourage our kids to write over their winter break with a mailbox! We have been exchanging letters for years now over the holidays with inspiration from a Santa mailbox and a winter wonderland. It can be any mailbox. In preschool, they had a pretend post office and would send each other cards of drawings, so I thought I would carry this activity home with letter writing. We set up snowflakes in our hallway and a letter writing area. I just get some envelopes and cards, glitter, stickers, and we are ready to go! This will help your child to practice their writing more plus do a fun activity that will strengthen your relationship. Even now at age eight, we are still doing this tradition with exchanging letters back and forth. Don’t forget to always include lots of cute little stickers as well and cards/envelopes in your letter writing station because they will go through them very quickly!