If reading is a painter’s colour, writing is the painter himself. To craft a masterpiece, one has to wield either one if not both aspects of a painter: reading and writing. In this article, we speak of how children can begin their conquest of improving themselves in crafting their own stories.
According to Rebecca Treiman, a child can begin to learn about the sequence of written language at an early age. For example, your child will learn the letters that appear together and those that appear less often. After that, your child will learn how sounds are represented by different letters.
However, your child will not learn how to write instantly as it’s a process. Cynthia Puranik, the principal investigator for the child reading and writing lab, gives an illustration of how children begin to talk. They’ll bubble and coo before you can hear the exact words come out.
In other words, writing is a process that your child has to go through. The good news, though, is that your child can learn the art of writing much faster with practice and careful planning. So how can you help your child know how to write in preschool?
How to Teach a Child to Write Numbers/Letters
The first step to teaching your child how to write is making the process fun. According to TeachPreschool.org, don’t overwhelm your child with learning until they have shown interest in it. Keep workbooks away when it’s time for your child to play, and only resume when they are fresh to carry on with the learning exercise.
Other studies have also reported a positive outcome of using a play-based approach in literacy and language development.
A survey carried out by the Malaysian Journal of learning and instruction interviewed preschool teachers and found that children would cooperate in any learning process, as long as it is attached to play.
The teachers added that children are actively involved in playing and that introducing playtime into learning activities would generate better results.
So, what are fun activities you can use to teach your child how to write? Below are a few proven and tested ways to teach your child how to write:
Fun Writing Activities for Preschoolers
1. Use Fingers
You must not have pencils and crayons to start teaching your child how to write. Instead, use your fingers! According to teachpreschool.com, teaching your child how to write using their fingers develops the strength that will ultimately enable your child to hold crayons or pencils.
Sensory bags, also called squish bags, are simple to create and fun to write on. They can help with your child’s cognitive skills by allowing your child to imagine, explore, discover, and learn new concepts.
Hence, if choosing a daycare centre that suits your child (in this case infant), choose one that also provides play-based learning sessions. This would unlock your child’s cognitive abilities at an earlier stage.
2. Leverage Buddy Programs
Buddy programs are exercises that involve upper-grade children to help younger children learn various activities like reading and writing. These programs stimulate opportunities for your child and build curiosity to learn.
Many studies have shown that allowing your child to copy older siblings promotes their social and cognitive skills. Children can choose who they want to imitate and the behaviours they would like to adopt at a young age.
If your child lacks a companion, invite close members of your community to get the habit of practicing with someone around. Provide them with writing boards and be present to help and monitor and help whenever they get stuck.
In a study to establish sibling imitation, 4- to 5-year-old children were asked to watch a video of an older child playing with an unfamiliar object. After watching the video, they were required to play with the same object. The study concluded that a child can learn faster by copying what an older child does.
3. Apply Dictation
A study found that dictation resulted in high-quality writing with fewer grammatical errors than handwriting and word-processed stories. Rollo Brown, in his book, “How the French Boy Learns to Write”, supports the study by confirming that dictation is one of the best ways to teach a child how to write.
Dictation is just the act of writing while listening. For some children who may be auditory learners, this could be a great step to initiate writing for your child. Besides, you can shape your child’s handwriting, sentence formation, and even better, match sounds-to-letter to spell wordings correctly through dictation.
Dictation is one of the most preferred ways of teaching a child how to write because a child can watch as you write in different styles. These are the two areas of focus:
- Show your child when to space words
- How to form sentences, punctuation
Additionally, dictation helps a child learn and understand that words spoken out by someone else can be written and read back.
When teaching your child how to write, make them understand that they first need to say the word before writing it down. If you teach your child to write more than one word, encourage them to read the word written before writing the next word. For example, if the sentence is “This is my backpack,” let your child write the word “this,” and read it before writing the next word, “is.”
4. Teach Your Child How to Write on the Lines
You must have noticed that your child’s handwriting doesn’t stay on the same line each time you teach them how to write. The South Africa curriculum and assessment policy statement argues that a child should start writing on a blank piece of paper before transitioning to sheets of paper with 17mm lines. From there, a school can choose to maintain using blank papers to teach a child how to write up to grade two.
However, teaching your child how to write on lines will help them adapt quickly to formal learning. Knowing how to write requires your child to have different skills, including your child’s attention, cognition, fine motor skills, perception, attention, visual-motor skills, etc.
You need to be patient with your child because writing on the lines requires more than writing skillsets.
According to Dr Janine Domingues of child mind institute, pushing a child to do things you perceive will enrich them is not a good idea. Instead, she recommends that you empower your child to keep going even through tough times as this will help boost their confidence to become more successful.
5. Help Your Child Learn How to Write Numbers
According to a journal published in the international electronic journal of elementary education, children can recognise numbers before joining the school.
So how do you teach your child how to write numbers? The first way to teach your child how to write numbers is to act them out.
Using your fingers, you can show them different numbers in the air to familiarise them with the number shapes. For example, point your finger in the sky and move it down gently to show them how to write number one.
Another fun way to show your child how to write numbers is to pour some salt on a tray or the table, write a few numbers, and then encourage your child to repeat what you just did. Children love copying from others what they do. Instead of seeing this as a learning process, your child will enjoy and see it as fun.
Lastly, make learning how to write fun and interesting by bringing counting into the equation. A simple way to do this is to roll dice and write the number rolled.
Remember to show how this is done first so that your child can copy and repeat after you. It can even get better if you can reward your child for every successful session. Studies now reveal that children will be motivated when offered rewards upon completing a task or activity.
Teaching your child how to write is a systematic process and you need to be patient. The best way to teach your child how to write is to read and write with them. This motivates and makes them eager to learn. At the same time, respect your child’s playtime and don’t take out your workbooks unless they have shown interest to learn. Otherwise, you’ll be pushing your child and this can lead to stress.