Recently I've been thinking about what I can do at home to support my daughters' teachers. How can I make sure that my kid isn't the weakest link? What can I say at home that will reiterate the learning from the day? A lot of skills that early elementary students develop are ingrained through repetition. I think we fail to realize how important the first 4 years of grade school are... You learn numbers, letters, site words, adding, subtracting, multiplication, division, verbs, nouns, adjectives, that the earth is round and bigger than just your yard- these are a few concepts. But we don't even think about these ideas any further because they are the building blocks of our knowledge.
- Buy a journal or notebook. My kids' father bought them glittery, shiny super cool notebooks so they could pen their world. He gave them no stipulations other than to fill the pages with pictures and words... mostly words. Having a specific place to write down ideas, stories and thoughts is great for mental organization and habit programming. The mind loves order and now we've designated an assigned place for all of the writing to occur. If your child begins to write on loose-leaf paper, have them either stop and get the journal or tape that paper into the journal.
- Write regularly. We began with a routine reminder and specific time to sit down and write together. Now they write on their own. They write when I send them to play and sometimes they'll write instead of playing video games (Gasp!). Start a routine it becomes a habit.
- Guide the writing. When they are young sometimes they have difficulty expressing their thoughts. Have them say their sentence out loud, then write it. After that, ask them a question- Who, What Where, When, Why or How questions about that sentence to get more information. That will inspire a new sentence to then say out loud and start the questioning again. Eventually they will begin to elaborate on their own.
- Encourage mistakes. I don't change their words and I don't correct spelling unless it is a word or concept that they have covered in school or we've worked on at home. Sounding out words and putting words together in sentences is part of the logical mental process. Do not disrupt it. My daughter entered a writing contest. Some of the words like inspired and imagination were indecipherable to someone else, but I knew what they were. I ended up typing a "translation page" that accompanied her submission. This way they could see that the actual work was hers but also understand what she was saying.
- Handwriting, handwriting, handwriting! How many adults have poor handwriting? Lots. Writing prompts help kids work on this. Even if the words are misspelled, I make sure that they write the letters correctly. The more practice they get with manual dexterity the better, ESPECIALLY when you have a lefty. My daughter who is a lefty has trouble with letters but actually has trouble moving her hand across the page because she says "it doesn't feel right to write in this direction". So the more practice she gets the better.
- Reading. I was editing this post out loud when my daughter said, "You forgot by reading, because reading improves the words you know and the ideas you can have". From the mouth of babes truth flows like a river of honey. She is right! How could I forget that reading more will make you a better writer. So go read together and encourage them to read out loud on their own.
My daughter is not a perfect writer but she did pen this guest post "What I Like Most About My Hair" which seemed longer on paper. Writing promotes more than creativity, it provides an outlet for communication, handwriting practice and an opportunity for parents to share meaningful time with their kids! Happy writing!