One of my favorite things to do with young children is pre-writing! It is important to know that in the early years your child’s writing efforts are “messy,” and often times don’t come close to resembling the letters we as adults write every day. However, please know that this is ok, and typical, these are the building blocks to them eventually learning to write letters that turn into words, and then sentences.
I encourage, teachers and parents to explore pre-writing with children. Although it is great to give them paper and pencil, and simply let them “write” away, there is more that can go into it to make it meaningful. The goal is to help children understand how writing works, that it connects in meaningful ways to reading, and that it communicates information, through words and symbols. Helping children put their words into writing is a great way for them to express their own thoughts and emotions.
This can all start with children as young as 8 months old. When children are able to feed themselves table food, a child can begin to strengthen their fine motor skills to start holding onto crayons. Place your child in their high chair and write with them, modeling writing on paper. Don’t worry if you will have to redirect them to the paper time and time again, as it will be only natural for them to want to eat and explore the crayon.
Fun ideas to try:
-Take a walk with your child, when you get home, have your child write about their experience. Ask them questions about what they saw? Help them recall things that were seen on their walk. Ask them questions that engage them in thinking, encourage them to “write” this all down on their paper.
-After a visit to Grandma and Grandpas, have your child write about what they enjoyed during their visit. You could help put the lines and symbols to words and mail it off to Grandma and Grandpa when you are done
Encourage your child to use drawing to express and tell stories!
You can also try some of these activities to change it up a little:
-Play with clay or play-doh shaping letters of the alphabet, you and your child can do this together.
-Help your child create a pretend menu or shopping list using pictures of food from newspapers or magazines.
The ideas are endless. The more fun and creative it is the more engaged your child will become. Letters and writing shouldn’t be forced, it is a natural desire to want to express themsleves, allow them to come to you asking help to spell their name. This is when you know they are ready to take the next steps in writing letters and creating words.