Inculcating Writing Skills in Your Child

Source Magazine:  Responsible Parenting 

“Becoming literate in modern world is indeed an increasingly complex task. Reading and writing abilities don’t just happen. They are acquired, nurtured and refined through the acts of those who provide appropriate instructional contexts and support.”

Strickland, D.S.

To become proficient in writing is not a single day process. A good writing work includes quality of handwriting, vocabulary, structure, spacing of letters and words, sequencing of ideas, spellings, and correct usage of grammar and content. So, teaching writing skills and simultaneously inculcating writing habits in your child is a step by step process which includes various stages.

STAGE 1: Pre-Writing Skills

This stage starts from the age of 18 months. Pre-writing simply means readiness to write. Preparing your child for writing can be fun for you and for your child. There are various steps and strategies to be followed at this stage.

Teaching Strategies for Stage 1

  • Use colors: Provide your child the opportunity to do hand painting and finger painting.
  • Free hand writing or scribbling: Use chalk boards and/ or paper, crayons, and allow your child to freely draw whatever she/he likes. The main reason to do this to teach your child about correct holding of crayons and chalks.
  • Coloring within the lines: Start teaching your child to color within the lines. Give her/him a simple picture to color, for eg: Basic shapes and draw a thick boundary of the picture. Initially, use a thick thread and ask your child to color within the boundaries and simultaneously you can shorten the thickness of the boundaries when your child actually understands the concept of coloring within the lines.
  • Teaching curves and lines: For pre-writing skills, teaching various lines, curves, and strokes are important. Instead of teaching in a traditional way like used in many writing books, make it a bit of fun and interesting. Let the child color one picture with vertical strokes, another with horizontal slants and eventually with curved lines. It will not only sustain the interest but also gives a sense of achievement and fun.
  • Gradually provide activities requiring more of pencil control like tracing, joining dotted lines, mazes etc.
  • Demonstrate your child the connection between oral and written language, for example: writing a thought of the day and repeating each word as it is written.
  • Tell your child that writing is purposeful and has some meaning, for example: show labels and signs that reflect child’s interest.
  • Make sure that your child’s wrist rests on the table while coloring or drawing.

STAGE 2: Experimenting with Writing

After pre-writing skills, at this stage children are aware that the speech (vocals) can be written down. They also understand the left to right organization of writing and how can they begin to write letters and words. Initially, writing in shapes actually resembles a few letters (though these are not actual letters) and later on they start forming real random letters and letter strings. There onward, they start reading back their own writing.

Teaching Strategies for Stage 2

  • Explain 1-1 correspondents of written and spoken words, for eg: create story maps by using various pictures and labeling each picture.
  • Describe your child that writing can be used to communicate, for eg: ask about writing her/his feelings on small paper and give it to other family members.

STAGE 3: Early Writing Skills

At this stage, children have started writing more words by using syllables, sounds and phonemics spellings. As their writing matures, children spell the words more conventionally. They understand the significance of writing and audience needs. They use more formal sense of writing letters, words, and sentences. This stage generally ends up in first grade.

Teaching Strategies for Stage 3

  • Create awareness: Discuss a scene or incidence with your child and ask her/him to describe and write in her/his own words.
  • Purposeful writing: Ask your child to write for a purpose such as writing letters, cards, and messages.
  • Develop own dictionary: Create a list of high frequency words from your child’s reading to writing and discuss the usage and meaning of each word by taking 2-3 words each day.

STAGE 4: Transitional Phase

At this stage, children become more familiar with writing patterns. They may have sense of structure, punctuation, and spellings which also depends upon the complexity of writing tasks.

Teaching Strategies for Stage 4

  • Provide a diary to your child for writing which includes daily routines, experiences, thoughts and feelings.
  • Ask your child to write short stories, describe incidences and any latest happening in the form of news.
  • Don’t always force your child to write in English if it is not her/his primary language. Tell her/him to write in any language in which she/he feels confident.
  • You impose your learning or style, try to develop your child’s own personal style of writing. Make your child free to choose content in which she/he feels more comfortable like serious to funny topics, or stories to news.
  • Ask your child to write short plays for her/his school programs.
  • Encourage your child’s work, for eg: displaying your child’s work on blogs or internet to increase the motivation levels.
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