- Have a story-filled life.
Pick a book above your child’s reading ability, or take turns reading pages in a book of his choice. When your kids are young, tell stories, the doctor’s office, or when you’re pushing the stroller. Above all, talk to your children.
- Recognize and celebrate early writing.
When your two-year-old scribbles and calls it his name, he’s writing. When your preschooler writes a series of letters and speaks to you what it says, he’s writing. And when your kindergartner draws a picture and adds a single word, she’s writing too. Call it that. Celebrate it!
- Let your child see you write.
When you’re in a rush to head out the door and are scribbling down a grocery list – and your preschooler hangs over your shoulder and asks what you’re doing – take a second. Show him. Let him watch you make lists, send e-mails, write thank you notes, and compose a note for his lunch box.
- Provide a great diversity of writing tools and surfaces for writing, and give your kid easy access to them.
Give your children pens, chalk, paint, and markers. Get large pads of newsprint, a chalkboard, or a dry erase board. When your kid knows her letters, put her on the computer. Make the lettering big and bright, and let her type.
- Create a writing space.
Set up a silent corner for your kid to write. If space is an issue, pack writing resources into a convenient container that your child can pull out at the kitchen table. Contain pens & pencils, pads of paper and covers, a notebook, and a spelling phrasebook appropriate for your child’s age.
- Schedule quality writing time into your day.
Don’t put writing prompt in front of your child and call that teaching writing. While prompts can serve a useful purpose, the focus of your writing time should be short mini-lessons and plenty of time for the independent write-up. What’s a mini-lesson? Here are just a few examples:
- a) Teach your kid how to streeetch out a word and write its sounds.
- b) Teach your kid how to brainstorm writing ideas.
- c) Teach your kid to re-read her work after she’s written it.
Give your kid writing time as often as you can. Would one book a week help your child love to read? Neither would one writing sit promote a love of writing. If your kid is resistant, use your finest judgment. But keep in mind that recurrent writing develops the routine of writing. I think that three days a week of 20-40 minutes (depending on age) is better than five days of just 10 minutes a day.