When it comes to writing, the most important thing to remember is that it should be fun! Shouldn’t that apply to all learning? From time to time, a follower on Facebook will ask for advice about how to get their child to enjoy “writing practice.” The first thing I suggest is to make the “writing process” fun! Put away the workbooks until the time comes when the child is interested in them, and instead incorporate writing activities into their daily play…
1. Start with their name
When introducing writing to your children or students, you want to make it relevant to them. What is more relevant than their own name? Begin by pointing out the letters in their name when you see them in environmental print. You can say things like, “This cereal starts with the letter R, just like your name.” Or “Will has four letters in his name, just like Jack has four letters in his name.” This year, at school, we have tested out a few ways to get our children to sign in each morning. Our young threes may not grasp all the letters in their name, but we still encourage them to “make their mark.” We want them to know that their name is important, and also that we are glad they came to school. ll good artists will want their name on their artwork and all teachers need a way to remember whose artwork belongs to who. So, we like to encourage our children to put their name or make their mark on all of the art work that they do in class. This is also something that you could do at home…
2. Use your fingers
You can begin the writing process with the tools you were born with–your fingers! Writing doesn’t have take place with pencils or crayons. In fact, using your fingers helps to develop the strength that is needed to eventually be able to grasp a pencil or crayon later on. Sand or salt trays are also an interesting medium for children to write in. The children can practice writing their names in the salt tray or use the trays for drawing or printing…
Paint trays are another super fun way to encourage writing. Rainbow writing in a paint tray is a bright, colorful, and inviting way to get young preschoolers interested in writing…
3. Offer interesting tools
If you have students that do not enjoy finger painting or having messy hands, then you can certainly offer other tools to use in their paint trays or salt trays. Q-tips work well for writing in paint and an unsharpened pencil works well in a salt tray. Paper, crayons, pencils, and markers are often abundant in our homes and classrooms. But if your children are not showing an interest in writing, you may want to consider offering some unique tools to spark their interest. We keep a set of clipboards out almost all the time in our classroom. We introduce the clipboards at the beginning of the school year, along with some telephones and calculators in an office dramatic play set-up. These tools for play inspire the desire for writing that will hopefully last throughout the school year…Other unique writing tools could include smelly markers, colored pencils, chalk, oil pastels, different types of paint, or even water. Next, play around with your canvases. What will the children be writing on? Chalkboards, cardboard, sidewalks, wood, and dry erase boards are all great canvases for writing practice. These mini plexiglass easels and window crayons are a great example of using unique materials to spark new interest in the writing process…Not only are all of these great ways to practice writing, but the children are also working on building strong muscles in their hands so that the writing process eventually comes easier for them.
4. Offer unique writing experiences
Make writing fun by offering unique writing experiences. Writing in shaving cream is a blast and one that children won’t soon forget. And how often do children get the opportunity to make their mark in snow?
5. Keep a journal
Journaling is a great way for children to practice writing. It can also be a fun way for children to express themselves creatively. Invite children to journal about an enjoyable experience that they’ve had either at school or at home. Children can journal about a story or movie or even their favorite color. Keep in mind that young children’s first attempts at journaling will probably take the form of drawing pictures and that is okay. Have the children describe their picture to you or “tell you their story.” Write it down as best as you can word for word to show children that their words have value.
6. Set up a writing station
If you have room in your home or classroom, a writing station is a perfect place to invite children to write. A writing station consists of different types of paper or cards, stickers, writing tools, scissors, and glue. Varying the materials that you offer in your writing center will keep children interested in coming back. If you don’t have the space to keep a writing station up permanently, consider offering a temporary writing station for birthdays and holidays. Children love making cards and gifts for their family and friends, especially around the holidays. Remember that the most important part of all early learning experiences is that they should be fun and based in play. We want children to associate writing with enjoyable experiences that they are happy to take part in