Starting school is a big event for any child and with those first steps into the reception classroom comes the first steps to learning reading and writing. Some children seem to take to all this like a duck to water and start school already knowing how to form some letters, write their name and maybe more.
Though what if your child is one that finds learning to write hard to get the hang of? What can do you at home to encourage your budding Shakespeare to practice writing? Also importantly, after spending a day at school, how can practice be fun so that it feels more like playing than working?
Dot-to-Dot books are a great way to get your child practicing pen control. They’ll need to keep a steady hand to join the dots together and, whilst this isn’t forming letters, it is helping those fine motor skills. Don’t want to run out and buy a book? Print out free dot-to-dot pictures online.
Get them outside with a tub of chalks and turn the garden path into a masterpiece. Make a map on the patio and label the police station, hospital and shops in your imaginary town. Draw pictures. Write messages. Practice making huge letters. Whatever they decide to do, I bet they won’t even notice they’re learning.
Many children love role play. So why not add some writing into the games. Do they like making you pretend to eat their plastic, playfood creations? Add a notepad and pen to this game and suddenly they can be a waiter taking down your order too. Maybe tomorrow they’re a police officer? Give them a notepad and pen so they can write out a parking ticket or note down evidence when they make an arrest. Add some columns to the notebook with the headings such as name/date/reason and now you have an appointment book for your child to write pretend appointments when they’re playing doctors, dentists, garages, vets, etc.
Start your child scrap booking and, as well as sticking in pictures about their favourite stuff, they could also write a sentence or labels in the book too.
Write actual letters and cards to grandma, their best friend, the Easter Bunny, anyone they want. Combined with a stamp and a walk to the post box, they’ll feel proud of themselves for writing a proper letter that the postman will deliver (OK, so he might have trouble delivering to the Easter Bunny but your child won’t know that).
Children and sticky things seem to go together. Whilst you may be fed up of sticky fingerprints over the windows, sticky Post-it Notes can encourage them to have a go at writing. Kids love to use them to write little messages. You might get sick of finding them stuck all around the house but, when you stumble across one that has “I luv mummy” written on it I guarantee it’ll put a smile on your face.
If you’re anything like me, the supermarket is your second home. Have your children help you with your trip by letting them help write the shopping list or you could also set up a play shop at home. Use the plastic food they keep trying to force feed you, or real food items from your kitchen cupboards, and your child can write a shopping list for their pretend shopping trip.
Maybe your child would like to play pirates and no pirate adventure is complete without a treasure map. Have them draw their map and add labels (don’t forget the X marks the spot) to find their buried, pirate treasure.
Above all, keep it relaxed and fun. It doesn’t matter if they spell the words wrong or can’t keep the letters on the line. Give them plenty of opportunity to have a go and the results of all that practice will show in time.