Writing is an important part of our daily lives. From filling out forms and writing cheques to completing reports and sending out memos, writing is a skill many of us use multiple times a day. But, for preschoolers, learning to write is no child's play and plays a significant role in their academic and cognitive development. An article titled 'Preschool Through Grade 3 Understanding Writing Development: Catie’s Continuum' published in the National Association For The Education Of Young Children (2016) states that 'skills that children learn as young writers can impact their literacy development later in life'. In other words, early writing skills can be a predictor of academic performance and overall literacy of a child.
However, convincing your young child to write is easier said than done. Many children want to play rather than sit down and write. Also, forcing them to write is likely to make them view the activity as repulsive. In order to teach a young child to write, or any other skill for the matter, it is important to make the activity seem fun and interesting. Here are some ways you can go about it.
Activities to make writing fun for your child
- Start with his name: The best way to make the activity of writing interesting to your child is to begin with teaching him how to write his name. Tell him about the different letters that make up his name and the order he should put them in to spell it correctly. With a pencil, slowly write out the letters to show him how it’s done. Then, ask him to give it a shot. His first few attempts are not likely to be very successful but don’t be discouraged. Appreciate him for his efforts and tell him how proud you are of him. This should help motivate him to practise more.
- Use fingers: A lot of individuals think that children should learn to write only with an appropriate instrument such as a pencil or a pen. However, young children may face some difficulty in learning how to grip a pencil correctly. A great way to get them fascinated with writing in a hands-on manner is to get them to use their fingers for writing. Get your child to dip her fingers in paint and then write something. To make the activity more interesting, you can also ask her to write in sand. Think of other creative ways to make the activity more fun for her.
- Offer choices: Offer your little one crayons, colour pencils, markers, chalk or oil pastels and see what he likes best. A number of alternate writing canvases like blackboards, cardboard, plexiglass easels can be used for practising writing. You can even ask your little one to apply glue to a sheet of paper in the shape of a letter or words and then sprinkle glitter on top. Even clay can be used to forms letters. Offer your child different materials and see which ones engage him best.
- Make it a game: Young children love playing games so making writing as fun as possible will do wonders for your child's interest in the activity. You can purchase a writing book where children learn how to write letters by connecting dots. Alternatively, you can make the dots yourself on a blank sheet of paper. This will help your little one practise letter formation which is a key aspect of learning how to write. Once she understands how different letters are shaped she can move on to working on entire words.
- Set up a writing station: Find an empty table or desk and make it your child’s official writing station. A writing station has all the necessary materials to write including different types of paper, writing tools, glue, paint and stickers. Creating a specific zone in your house dedicated to writing will impress upon your children the importance of the activity. It is often best to just let your child sit at the writing station by himself and see how he expresses his creativity. Vary the materials at the writing station so that your little one is always interested in coming back.
Each child takes his own time to learn a particular skill, so don’t be disheartened if your little one isn’t learning as fast as his peers. Never criticise your child or compare his writing abilities to that of his friend’s. The mystery and magic of the written word can be easily destroyed if we make writing a frustrating and demanding exercise. So, remember, to support him in his efforts constantly.
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