Getting Your Young Child to Become a Writer

Why should you care if your child becomes a writer or not?

Writing knowledge is information that helps your child become a better reader. When young children write, the reading/writing process is slowed down to form messages and print, and the child must work on a variety of levels. Here are some suggestions that can help your child become a better writer:

Build a climate of words at home. Go places and see things with your child, then talk about what you have seen, heard, smelled, tasted and touched. The basis of good writing is good talk, and younger children grow into stronger control of the language when loving adults, particularly parents share experiences and talk about those experiences.

Let your child see you write often. You are a model and a teacher. What you do is as important as what you say. Have children see you writing notes to friends, shopping lists and telephone messages. From time to time, read aloud what you have written. Making changes in what you write confirms for the child that revision is a natural part of writing.

Praise your child’s efforts at writing. Emphasize his or her success. Early efforts deserve and thrive on praise. Children will strive as time goes on to make their messages clearer to all by learning and adopting standard form and formats (letters, spelling, etc.) For every error the child makes, there are dozens of things he or she has done well. It takes many years to learn how to write what you want to say and spell it correctly. Enjoy their attempts and focus on what they can do.

Be alert to occasions when your child can be involved in writing. For example, helping with grocery lists, or adding notes at the end of parents’ letters. Save money and make your own cards: birthday, Valentine’s Day, Easter, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Christmas, Get Well, and invitations. Materials include construction paper, crayons or markers and an imagination.

Writing for real purposes is rewarding and the daily activities of families present many opportunities for purposeful writing. Involving your child may take some coaxing, but it will be worth your effort!