For 3's, 4's and 5's
The time to start teaching a child
to write is long before the child is actually old enough. Here are some ideas
for "prewriting" - setting up experiences for preschoolers in which they can
work on the many subskills of writing and have fun, too.
field trips: A walk through your yard, a park, your street, a room in your
house, a playground, Grandma's house - anywhere - can be a great opportunity
for observing, thinking, questioning and recording. Before you go, staple paper
together into a book. You could put the book on a clipboard so that your child
can write as you go, or wait 'til you get home. On each page, ask your child to
draw a picture of an object or scene from that "field trip." Afterwards, you
can ask him what it is, take a pencil and write down a word to label his
drawing as he watches, and then he can copy what you wrote underneath. Use
upper and lower case letters.
and sewing projects: help with fine-motor coordination and eye-hand skills.
Spy: your child watches your pet in the back yard, shoppers at the grocery
store, people walking by your home, the postal carrier going down the street, bugs
in the grass -- whatever. Your daughter can "dictate" to you what she sees, and
you write it down. Gradually, she can begin to write down the "detective" notes
poems: nothing, but nothing, works as well as humor. So start an index file
for your child. Write a funny poem on each index card. "Row, row, row your
boat, gently down the stream / Throw your teacher overboard and listen to her
scream." "I see London / I see France / I see _______'s underpants!" As your
child grows, he or she can start writing funny poems down on index cards to add
to this file.
log: give your child a spiral notebook to draw pictures and practice
writing words while you're on vacation. Your child may enjoy dictating words,
sentences and stories to you. You can tape photos from your trip in place and
your child can dictate descriptive captions, a good opportunity to practice
observational skills. Years from now, this notebook will be a cherished
of favorite words: it's wonderful to cultivate a love for language in your
child. Most children have several words that they just love to say. Often, it's
a humorous word such as "underwear." You can help your child record these "fun"
words and draw pictures to illustrate the words. The more meaningful a word is
to a child, the more likely he is to remember it.
alphabet letters on the fridge: these are a staple of childhood, and they
really work to familiarize a child with the alphabet and numbers. Remember,
children learn best through relaxed play. Later, you can replace the alphabet
letters with entire words, magnetized.
story: as you are driving, each family member adds a sentence to a story.
You can keep this totally oral, or record it in your child's writing notebook
for future reference. In between car trips, everyone can be thinking of where
they want the story to go next time.