Writing is an integral part of our life, so it is an important skill for our children to develop.
- Help your children to write thank you letters every time they receive a present or are invited to stay overnight with a friend or relative.
- Encourage your children to write birthday and Christmas cards to friends, grandparents and close relatives.
- Encourage your children to write or add to your shopping list which could be kept on the fridge.
- Encourage your children to keep a holiday diary/scrap book.
- Keen writers might like to start a personal diary.
- Help your children find a pen pal and encourage them to keep the communication going (the pen pal might be a friend that has moved to a different town, a cousin of a similar age, a child of one of your friends of a similar age or a person found through a pen pal organisation).
- Write for competitions. This might be a writing competition, but could also be a competition in which you compose a slogan or explain why you like a particular product.
- Write to request a free or sample product.
- Write stories which are published in some format. See www.storybird.com .
Every time your children spell a word incorrectly, that incorrect spelling is being embedded in their long-term memory. Encourage your children to ask for help with spelling unknown words. However, DO NOT JUST SPELL THE WORD AS YOU WOULD FOR AN ADULT, rather use it as a teaching opportunity.
- Help your children identify the sounds in the words For example, if the word is ‘house’ you could say “The sounds in mouse are /m/-/ou/-/s/.
- Next identify the letter or letter combinations representing those sounds. For example, the /m/ is ‘m’ for ‘mountain’, which you know already. The /ou/ is made from ‘o’ and ‘u’ like in ‘house’. Next you have /s/ for ‘snake’, which you know and there is a silent ‘e’ on the end that we can’t hear.”
- If you know the relevant rules you can also add this information as well. So, in this example the rule is: Use ‘ss’ or ‘se’, not ‘s’, at the end of base words. Use ‘ss’ after a short vowel, otherwise use ‘se’. /ou/ is not a short vowel, so use ‘se’.
If you have concerns about your children’s spelling, get help from a specialist sooner rather than later.
Don’t be angry or make negative comments when your children spell a word incorrectly. Take every opportunity to provide positive feedback on words spelled correctly and when they include ‘interesting’ and more complex words in the writing task.
If you do not make writing a positive experience, you will find your children will restrict their writing to a small group of words they can spell or they will avoid writing altogether.
Help your children plan what they will write in an organised way. Mind-maps are an excellent tool for this process.
- Begin by getting your children to dictate their story for you to type. As they get ‘hooked’ into creating their own story, you can gradually include them in the writing process by having them write one sentence and then one paragraph and gradually build until they are writing complete stories. Don’t be too quick to step away. They are more likely to persevere on the writing task if you are sitting next to them.
- Set aside time to write. Just like you should set aside time for your children to read and for you to read to them, set aside writing time each week.
- Keep a box of different coloured and types of paper and pens
- Use unlined paper
- Use a whiteboard
- Teach your children to touch typed
- Use dotted-third paper to help your children learn to proportion and form their letters correctly