Whether it’s first learning to write your name or scrawling your crush’s name multiple times all over a school notebook, writing is a big part of the way in which you express yourself. Of course, these days it often comes in the form of texts and emails, but that doesn’t exactly help your kids who still have to learn how to pen to paper. Up for the task? You’ll need to know how to teach your child to write, because a lot of it comes from the example you lead.
“The best thing parents can do is provide many authentic opportunities for writing,” says Shaunna Evans, an educator, mom, and creator of Fantastic Fun and Learning, in an email interview with Romper. “Have writing materials readily available, not tucked away in a hidden location. Let kids see you writing often, and describe to them what you are doing when you do write something, like a list, a letter, or a note.”
Once you have your pencil in hand, Evans says to “find reasons to write,” using holidays, birthdays, and special events as the perfect opportunity to do so.
Bethany Todd, former kindergarten teacher and blogger for e.Merging Education Consulting agrees, adding that by pointing to words as they read, parents will begin to interest children in learning to write. “This teaches children that words match pictures and stories — words have meaning,” she says. “You don’t have to point to every word every time you read, but doing it when it really counts can make an impact. For example, point to the word CRASH when the story shows a big crash.”
Tammy Farhit, a first grade teacher and author of Fluttering Through First Grade, tells Romper her favorite mechanism for teaching proper letter formation is a dry erase board and marker.
“It provides a smooth surface and a lot of practice space without the paper waste,” she says. “Parents can play a game called ‘Copycat’ with their child where they write letters, words, or sentences with dry erase markers first, and then the child copies by tracing it exactly the same way again on top of or next to the first one.”
One common roadblock in learning how to write is difficulty grasping a pencil. If that is the case, then Farhit says playing with clay, buttoning buttons, pinching tweezers or tongs, and even taking caps on and off of markers are ways to build strong fine motor muscles which leads to successful handwriting skills. “Strong fingers make for a strong writing grip, so providing children with fine motor activities that allow them to work those muscles are wonderful for developing handwriting skills at home,” she adds.
Sounds like it’s time to put aside the devices and get back to basics.