One of the biggest challenges for young children is learning to master the necessary skills for writing. For new parents, it can be difficult to understand how to help kids develop those skills. In order to effectively help your child build the skills needed for effective writing, you need to understand the phases of development that he or she will go through. Here's a look at each key phase and some tips to help your child progress through them.
Scribbling and Drawing
The earliest stage of writing consists of that time when your child is randomly scribbling and drawing on paper. To kids in this stage, those scribbles are masterpieces and they cannot discern between them and pictures. Most kids in this stage have yet to actually associate print with any kind of meaning.
To help kids in this stage progress, make tools available to them to practice writing as often as possible. Things like drawing pads, sandwriting tables, and even playdough or chalk will encourage kids to practice those fine motor skills.
Early Letter Formation
As kids start to develop more understanding of the connection between text and language, they begin to repeat letters. One of the earliest things that most kids recognize is their own names in print. While they may not yet associate the letters with the sounds in words, they will begin to associate the fact that text itself has meaning.
To help children reinforce the skills they're developing in this stage, encourage them to write their names as often as possible. Show them the letter sounds that create their name when they write it out. Spend time reading books and showing them letter sounds in the words. Then, have them repeat them and identify words that share similar sounds.
Beginning Word Sounds
As kids start to isolate the sounds of each letter, they start to recognize beginning sounds. This is most often when kids start to invent their own phonetic spellings. Letter sounds become more distinctive, particularly in first letters and their sound combinations.
You can encourage development of these skills by opting for play activities that center around words. By this time, you can encourage things like journaling, which will encourage kids to learn proper spellings and phonetics as they write.
Complete Word Sounds
As kids master the isolation of beginning word sounds, they start to also focus on the ending sounds of words, making it easier to put them together into complete words. Encourage children to write with entire word families and sound patterns. Work on writing basic sentences by offering word prompts through play. Break up the phonetic sounds in words using dividing lines so that the different combinations and sounds become clear.
Each of these stages play a role in making your child a confident writer. Understanding these will help you to equip your child with the skills that he or she needs to write successfully in those early school years.