Writing is an interesting school subject. It’s one of the most subjective areas of academics — everyone has their own style, voice, and even their own handwriting. Being a good writer isn’t just something for the literary elite. Your child will write papers, essays, cover letters, and job applications at all turns in their life, so it’s important to hone in on the basics now.
At Resurrection Christian School, we prioritize all the subjects, but there are always things you can do to help your child out at home. It’s not only a great learning experience for them (and you), it’s a way to stay involved with your child’s academics at our private school, and a way to connect with them.
Early Stages: Preschool – First Grade
Writing is just starting at this point for your young one. You don’t need to worry about sentences or perfect spelling yet (you won’t need to worry about the latter writing element for quite some time). These are the years where it’s all about getting the foundation down.
Holding a Writing Utensil
For children at this age, writing can be very challenging. It requires fine motor skills that take time to develop. In general (but not always), boys take longer to develop their fine motor skills than girls — the reverse is true for gross motor skills, like throwing a ball.
At this age, your biggest priority should simply be helping them get used to holding a writing utensil and starting to use it. Drawing and coloring are great ways to practice (and pretty fun, at that!). Try different types of utensils with different sizes, such as thicker markers or pencils, to encourage your young one. They might feel like they have more control when there’s more to grip.
Another thing to note during this time? When your child is first holding something (usually as a toddler), you’ll find out pretty quickly whether they prefer their left or right hand. Give opportunity for them to practice both to see what feels right. Check out this article on ways to hold a pencil for more information!
Of course, you want your child to draw freehanded and explore with using writing utensils, especially when they’re young. However, our private school also recommends getting some practice in with tracing lines — this will make it easier to trace letters later on down the road.
By the time your child is getting ready for kindergarten, they should be able to write their first name and the first letter of their last name (capitalized). They should also be able to distinguish between uppercase and lowercase letters, even if they don’t know all their letters yet. In terms of writing, your child should be able to trace letters and write many letters independently.
If your young one isn’t there just yet, there’s no need to panic! You can practice by printing off sheets and resources for parents and teachers from the web, or ask your child’s teacher if they have extra materials for practicing at home.
By kindergarten and first grade, your child will be writing words and simple sentences. You can guide in this practice at home with a number of games:
- Sight Word Match: Make a list of ten sight words (i.e. at, and, on, or, etc.), then have your child copy writing them down in a column on a piece of lined paper. In the other column or on another piece of paper, help them cut out and paste the same sight words that they find in magazines or newspapers. You can also tape or glue the words in a jumbled up order, then have your child draw lines to connect each word.
- Chalk Hopscotch: Create a hopscotch outline, then have your child write words that make a sentence into different boxes. Have them hop in the order of the sentence, have them jump to sight words, or have them jump to words that start with a certain letter.
- Copycat: This is especially good for kids who need to take their time and slow down on their writing, and need to focus on how they’re holding a writing utensil. You write various words, and then in different colors, have your young one try to copy (either by writing separately, tracing over, or both) the word as neatly and perfectly as possible.
Reading and writing are completely intertwined. We can’t be great writers if we’re not great readers, and the reverse is true as well. By encouraging literacy as a whole in your household, you’ll be giving your kids a foundation for writing success.
Read every single day with your young ones, take frequent trips to the library, and talk about the writing that you’re reading. Are there sentences that rhyme? What words make you feel a certain way? If you closed your eyes and listened, could you still picture the story? Engage in a dialogue with reading that revolves around writing, and you’ll set your kids up for success.
There are any number of ways that kids deal with and react to writing. Some might try to write everything perfectly, and get hung up on the spelling of words. Others might get frustrated with the struggle of holding a writing utensil and producing neat words and letters, and might want to give up.
Our private school knows that the best things you can do for your child’s writing practice are to be encouraging, patient, and focus on the big picture. Create a culture in which writing is a messy process, it’s not perfect, and that’s the point of it. Always applaud your child for going the extra mile and persevering through tough tasks.
In our next blog, our private school will cover some of the ways in which you can help your older children with their writing exercises and homework. Stay tuned, and contact Resurrection Christian School for any questions you might have on enrollment, academics, or more.