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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Reading AND Writing

We all know how important it is to read to children. But what should we be doing for the children in our lives when it comes to encouraging writing? Isn't writing also an important part of literacy?

The Duluth News Tribune recently featured an article on this very subject. (I wanted to put a link to the article in here, but it looks like they are now requiring a password and such to access it.) A reader wrote into an advice column of the paper's, asking what they could do to encourage their 4-year to be practicing writing. I really loved the answer that was given. Judy Swedberg, a Head Start teacher for ISD 709 at Lincoln Park Elementary, responded by encouraging the reader to give their child "natural" writing experiences, explaining that, "kids learn best when they are doing something that is meaningful to them - and fun." How true, not just for writing, but for all kinds of learning!

Swedberg also explained that scribbling is where writing begins. The best thing we can do as parents (and as teachers, educators, or anybody who works with children) is provide our children with opportunities, and supplies, to practice writing/scribbling!

Photo by freeparking

Some of Swedberg's suggestions for encouraging writing included...
  • Give them a pad and paper to make their own lists.
  • Help them write letters to friends and family.
  • Help them make signs to hang around the house ("Keep Out!").
  • Make a little office space for them to do writing. Include paper and envelopes from junk mail offers, a play phone, pads of paper and pens/pencils, cheap reading glasses with the lenses popped out (wouldn't this make for the perfect photo-op!), etc.
  • Make a book together.
  • Play school, but let the child be the teacher and write on the chalk board, or dry erase board.
  • Play with shaving cream on the table or counter, and let them write letter in the shaving cream.

Those are some of the ideas Swedberg gave. What ideas do you have for encouraging little ones to practice writing?

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