Being able to read and write are two skills that many of us take for granted – without them, life is very difficult. Learning to write is a key skill in early childhood education and it’s something you, as a parent, can get involved in too.
By the time children reach the age of five years old and are about to start school, they may well be able to write their own name, albeit in a very basic way. But many children still start school without being able to do this. Knowing the basics of how to write gives them a good grounding, so it’s well worth spending some time with encouraging your children to have a go at making letter shapes and holding a crayon or pencil.
Developing A Reading Habit
Reading and writing skills are firmly connected and one sure-fire way of encouraging an interest in writing is to first get children into reading and books. Books can be enjoyed from a very young age, first by reading them to your child and later by helping them to learn to read with you.
Learning the basics of the word sounds and teaching children their ABCs is the foundation for both reading and, later, writing. At first they’ll only be able to manage with single letters, but the sounds can soon be joined together and, in turn, this will progress to short words.
When children are able to recognise both the sound of different words and slowly begin to read them, their knowledge of how words look on a page will be building up. You can explain that this is known as writing and is something they’ll soon be able to learn to do too.
Although some children are reluctant to learn to write, it’s helpful to extol the many benefits they’ll learn from it and positively encourage them to have a go. It’s best not, however, to force them into trying to write before they’re ready – if they are very reluctant, leave it for a while and have a go at a later stage.
Making Basic Letter Shapes
Before children are able to write full words, they need to learn how to use writing instruments, such as crayons and pencils, and make simple letters. In the very first instance, this is more like simple marks than actual letters.
Again, this process isn’t something to rush through and children should be allowed to have a go with paper, pencils and crayons on their own. Some children may not be so adept at holding a pencil in their hand as others, and you may need to slowly help them learn how to hold it and get used to it.
Encouraging involvement in other seemingly non-related activities, such as cutting paper can help build up motor skills and get children more used to doing things with their hands. Once children are more confident at holding writing instruments and have begun to learn to write individual letters, they’ll be well away. Don’t worry that the letters may be large and wobbly at this stage – it’s a good start, and they’ll become more controlled as their ability improves.
Every child develops at a different pace, so even if your child can’t fully write their own name before starting school, don’t panic. At least they will know what it’s like to hold a pencil, which is definitely a better start than having no prior knowledge at all.