Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Tips on how to encourage young kids to write

Motivating my eldest son who is already four years old can be challenging on some days.  He doesn't like it as much as reading.  He's such a bookworm that he doesn't need prodding to read.  It's a totally different story when it comes to writing.  There are days when he's in the mood to practice his penmanship and write his full name and nickname.  But there are also days (and they are many) when I need to be extra creative and patient so that he'll be motivated to write and I would not be forcing him to finish his task.  The challenge is to keep writing practice fun and interesting to the child.

I thank God for the inspiration especially in the past weeks how I can encourage and motivate my eldest child to keep on practicing his writing skills.  This is one of our homeschool goals for the year for our eldest child.  You may read more about our homeschool goals this year here.  Let me share some ways so that parents out there who are in the same boat can also try these strategies.

  1. We were playing statue dance here
    and it was his turn to flash the stop and go sign.
    Incorporate writing in play.  One of our favorite activities and one of the daily activities in our homeschool is pretend play.  I try to incorporate writing into my kids' pretend plays.  For example, when my son liked playing doctor, I reminded him that doctors write the names of medicines on prescription pads.  So, he pretended to write prescriptions also.  he would copy the name of medicines or wrote something else.  I also told him that his prescription pad should have his name.  Thus, he excitedly wrote Doctor Gian Timothy Dumadag on his "prescription pads."  (You may read here the article I wrote about the benefits to kids of playing doctor.) When he liked playing store or when he was pretending to be a grocer, I encouraged him to make price tags and labels for his merchandise.  I asked him to make signages for his store as well as "close" and "open" signs.  (You may read here the article I write about lessons kids learn from playing store.) When they pretend to be running a restaurant, I encourage my son to write the orders of his customers on his pad paper and the price of the food and drinks ordered on the bill.  When they play basketball, I teach him to write the score by writing lines and by writing the equivalent number to total the points.

  2. Integrate writing in art activities.  We love making art works.  We love painting.  So, what I do is ask my eldest son to write his name on his art work and write a title to his art work or painting.  When he was younger and could not write on his own yet, I would assist him by holding his hand while he holds a pencil or crayon. 

    One of our art works last year.
  3. Encourage writing letters, notes and prayers.  Recently, we've been writing letters and he got to practice writing his name by signing his letters.  First, he wrote to Santa Claus.  Next, he wrote a letter to God.  Last Christmas, he wrote Christmas greetings on some leaflets.  Last week, he wrote part of his morning prayer.

    Yanthy's prayer which he wrote.

    An excerpt from Yanthy's morning prayer.

    Yanthy's wish and letter to Santa Claus for next Christmas.
  4. Let your kid/s see how important writing is and where writing would be useful in daily life.  One practical use of writing that my eldest son see me do a lot at home is when I make lists.  He sees me or our maid doing this often.  We make a grocery list, market list and laundry list.  He sees me writing when I'm giving instructions to our maid.  He sees me writing notes in my notebook when I have ideas and I can't work on them right away.  He sometimes sees me writing on my blessings journal. Kids like to imitate.  When they see us writing, they also like to get hold of a pen and paper.  I see my youngest son do this now.  When he sees his older brother practicing his penmanship, he asks for paper and crayon or pencil, too.  He still needs to learn how to hold a crayon but he is starting to scribble already. 
  5. Identify activities that the child likes and find ways to marry writing into the activity.  My son loves to read and spell.  So, one time my husband asked him to write the titles of the books on our shelves that he liked to look at and read.  Last week, I allowed him to write the things that he liked to spell.

    Yanthy wrote this after reading his book.
  6. Integrate rewards into your writing practice.  One of the rewards I give my eldest son when he completes his task of writing his name is to draw color-coded stars on his notebook.  I draw a green star when he completes a portion of his name.  If he gets to write his full name (Gian Timothy Dumadag) and his nickname (Yanthy), he gets 4 green stars.  If his handwriting is good (more legible and lines are straighter), I draw a yellow star aside from the green stars.  These past days since we have plenty of chocolates (from my godmother who just arrived from Europe), I reward him with a chocolate for dessert after lunch if he gets to finish his seat work before lunch.  On other days, I use other rewards like going somewhere he likes or playing with a toy he requests to play with.  Take your cue from your child.  Reward him with something he likes that is also acceptable to you. 

  7. Make paper, pencils and crayons accessible to kids and let them scribble, doodle or draw. Just make sure that they are not left unsupervised while using pencils.  There was a time when my eldest son would write everywhere in our house even when we give him a big paper to write on.  then, his therapist told me that young kids really develop that way.  They start with big strokes so we really need to give them big papers.  It's just amusing that even when we give him really big paper like Manila paper to write on, he still ends up writing outside.  So I looked for washable crayons and eraser pads that can wash off or erase crayon marks.  Now, he is passed that stage and has learned to write and draw smaller letters, numbers and objects.  Now, our challenge is to write within the lines of the pad paper and write letters and numbers with more uniform sizes.  I know that it can take a while before he gets to write more legibly. My goal now is to just sustain his interest and to continuously motivate him to practice his writing skills so that he'll eventually master writing letters and numbers and he will have a nicer penmanship.
Yanthy drew a scateboard and scooter here
that he saw from a book he read.
He also traced his foot and colored it.

These are some of our strategies to get our sons to write.  Do you have other tips?  Feel free to share by leaving a comment so we can learn from your experience as well.

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