Being a writer was the first thing I remember wanting to become, so naturally I’ve always had an affinity and fascination with both the process and product. I am an imperfect writer with a comma addiction. My grammar rules are fuzzy, but my passion for writing is undeniable as is my desire to help foster the young writers I work with daily as they search for their voice on paper. Was that a run-0n? It’s an ongoing, organic process…but here’s a few tips:
1. Start them young. You may see pudding paint here. I see a toddler safely strapped down so I can breath normally for 7 minutes. It’s worth the mess. I also see a perfect poem of sticky , messy descriptive words written with a hilarity of chocolate.
2. Surround them with opportunities to write with different, authentic formats such as message boards, grocery lists, post-it notes, notebooks, reminders, invitations, recipes, brainstorming, cards, and/or writing their own fortunes after a chinese food night. Embrace “developmental or inventive” spelling. Your child babbles before they talk. You’d never tell them to only say words they could pronounce correctly. Help them stretch and sound out the words, but never sacrifice creativity for spelling. Spelling will come in time.
3. Show them they ARE writers and storytellers, before they can write. Ask them to tell you a story, then “publish” it into a book. By publish I mean write or type it with cheapo paper and staple it. Bonus points for card stock covers or fancy paper. Let them illustrate. In my 3 year old’s Mean Squid book (the bottom book) she stamped each word with her finger to reinforce concepts of print. Have your young writers crawl up in all your families’ lap and read it! Put all your homemade books in a place of honor and read often!
4. Model. Model. Model. One of my favorite ways to do this at home and in the classroom is to write “Daily News”. Kids (and adults) love to talk about themselves. You model writing and reading all in one.
5. Make it personal. At home the kids each keep a family journal. They can write to any one of us and leave it on our pillow. We write back. It’s an unspoken, sweet writing experience that is also going to be a priceless keepsake. My 8 year old has also asked John and I wonderful, personal questions about life. It’s an authentic way to find their voice. And, go 21st century with writing: get your child emailing, texting, typing, etc.
In my Teacher’s Pay Teachers and Teacher’s Notebook Store I have recently added a “Daily News” journal I use with my kindergarten students. Since I’ve modeled it so much in class, they are ecstatic to have their very own;)
They write in it every morning. I collect a few each day to write back and they also love to read their entries to friends at their tables. Their writing is booming and their excitement is immeasurable. My mouth has literally dropped open lately at what they are writing. Amazing to think how far they have come since August! Did I mention how crazy they are about having their own personal word wall?
As I showed each child their Daily News journal I highlighted each of our 3 main goals on a very professional Writer’s Checklist for a visual. I even sang out in an opera voice. It went over well. I’m thankful I was the only adult in the room at the time, although it wouldn’t have stopped me.