From Reading to Writing: 2 Ways to Support Young Writers At-Home
At Reading Teacher, we emphasize the foundational literacy skills that will help students become lifelong readers. Although we might not think about our students becoming lifelong writers, the ability to write is an equally important and challenging skill to develop. From the first moment they pick up a book, teachers and parents can honor the connection between reading and writing and support a child toward becoming a thoughtful, effective writer.
But what does early writing support look like? Like reading, writing skills develop early and gradually: a child’s writing typically starts with scribbling and progresses to more letter-like shapes and random strings of letters. As a parent, you may worry that your child is not progressing quickly enough in the writing department; but when we consult the science of early literacy, it’s completely normal for young writers to produce incomprehensible scribbles for a period of time.
Early Writing Activity #1: Time to Write!
You can support a child’s early writing - and hopefully get them moving toward more legible sentences - by encouraging writing time outside of the classroom, focusing on simple words such as the child’s name, Mom, Dad, love, or dog. Make writing extra fun by using scented markers, fat pencils to assist with fine motor control, and patterned or colorful paper. In tandem with a structured literacy classroom, your at-home efforts can have a significant impact on your child’s reading and writing progress at school.
Early Writing Activity #2: Dictation
In addition to carving out designated writing time with your child, you can support their early writing skills by writing down what they say. Simple dictation activities help to model the skill of writing in a range of contexts and demonstrate the relationship between spoken and written words. Around bedtime or during a meal, take a few minutes to chat with your child and record their favorite part of a book, their most recent dinner, or a playdate with a friend. As your child watches you write, they’ll become aware of the more subtle conventions of writing like capitalization, word spacing, and punctuation. In addition to supporting a child’s early literacy, this is also an opportunity for parents and caregivers to refresh their communication skills - and clean up their handwriting!
These 2 simple writing activities can go a long way in supporting early writers. Writing is an essential skill for children to develop, and the science of reading is beginning to place a stronger emphasis on the duality of reading and writing. Strong writers typically have strategic reading skills, literacy knowledge, vocabulary, and background knowledge of various facts and concepts: all of which can be taught explicitly through early writing instruction. While we entrust the more in-depth science of reading to the researchers and educators, parents can adopt these 2 simple at-home strategies to enhance their child’s writing ability and confidence.
- The science of reading demonstrates a strong relationship between early reading and writing skills.
- Parents and caregivers can support a child’s early interest in writing by (1) setting aside designated time for “fun writing” at home and (2) using dictation activities to illustrate the connection between spoken and written words.
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