Children write at home for many different purposes. Some children write with enthusiasm and independence. They may create storybooks, lists, letters to Santa or notes to friends. Other children may only write at home when they are doing their homework or writing in a birthday card. (This is usually done in a great rush in our family, generally as we are racing out the door to the party!)
Just like adults, children have different strengths and difficulties when they write. Writing is a complex task requiring creative (authorial) skills, knowledge of conventions (such as grammar and punctuation) and physical competency (being able to hold the pencil and correctly form letters or use a keyboard efficiently).
With all of these differing elements it can be difficult to select which aspect of writing to focus on in order to help your child. In the following excerpt from Kaye Lowe’s article for PETAA, she gives some interesting advice for parents who would like to support their child at home.
What Parents Can Do
Encourage children to write, write, write! Provide many opportunities such as writing the shopping list, sending letters and cards to friends and relations, writing emails, keeping a diary, publishing personal stories, labelling photos in the family album, and leaving notes. It should be relevant and meaningful writing rather than writing for the sake of writing.
Give your children opportunities to read their stories aloud (while you sit back and listen). Listen with a focus on the message they express. Comment on what they have done well, for example: ‘I like how you started your story. Read the lead sentence again.’
Leave comments about spelling, punctuation, and grammar to another time — they are important if and when, it is to be published. If children are encouraged to freely express their meaning and are acknowledged, they are more inclined to want to write.
Draw children’s attention to writing in the environment — street signs, shop signs, labels on food containers, writing on clothing, signs on billboards — these signs and notices are models of writing for real purposes.
Create a community of writers. Provide a quiet place for writing with lots of writing materials. Leave notes for each other, write poems for your children, send messages in lunch containers. Play writing games, for example, one person writes the beginning, another the middle and the other the end of a family story. Write together.
Overall Kaye’s advice is entirely in sync with the way the teachers at Derinya approach writing – we look at the students’ writing with an ‘admiring lens’. What are they doing well? What can be celebrated? What might be holding them back? How can we help them address these hurdles? What could they be aiming for next? Which authors might inspire them to write or extend their vocabulary?
When you read your child’s writing you might keep these questions in mind but, most importantly, please remember to look for all the delightful attempts your child has made in their writing. Look out for those experimentations with a new word, their attempts at spelling (that haven’t quite gone to plan!), their curious ideas or their hilarious accompanying illustrations. Once you have found these gems make sure you tuck them away as they are a snapshot of your child’s voice at a very special time in their life.
For the full article please go to https://pops.vic.edu.au/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/18_may_parentsguidetohelpathome.pdf