Babies start off not being able to use any language at all and then gradually by observing, listening and copying those around them they begin to talk. Of course their first attempts are not perfect, but over time they get better and better at using spoken language. They start to talk because they want to communicate with those around them and they get better at it because the adults in their lives help them by encouraging them, and by talking and listening to them.
Learning to write is not very different from learning to talk! When children see print around them and watch the people they love using writing in their daily lives, they become curious about writing. They see us using writingto communicate and interact with each other and then, when they have something they want to communicate, they give writing a try! Their first squiggles may just be “pretend writing” and may not look anything like the letters we use, but these are the first steps in using writing to communicate. And then, just like with learning to talk, children get better and better at writing when we encourage them − by writing with and to them, and by reading what they write.
Here are five easy ways to help develop your children’s writing.
* Show them that what we say can be written down and then read. For example, when they have drawn a picture, ask them if they would like you to help them write something about it. Write down the words they tell you under their picture and then read the words back to them.
* Show them the different ways you use writing. Let your children see you writing – making a shopping or to-do list, writing appointments on a calendar, writing a letter or an email, keeping a journal in which you record your thoughts, ideas and/or feelings.
* Show them that we write to communicate. Write a short note to your child telling them how much you love them and then put the note in a place where they will find it – in their school lunchbox, on their pillow, or in their cupboard.
* Show them that you value what they write. If your child writes something to you, write back to them. Also, display their drawings and writing at home – the front of the fridge makes a great display gallery!
* Show them that you are interested in what they are communicating. Read what your children write and comment on what they have written about rather than how they have written it. Writing from left to right with beautiful handwriting and correct spelling all come naturally over time as children read and write regularly with you and others.