"Try to say the very thing you really mean the whole of it,
nothing more or less or other than what you really mean.
That is the whole art and joy of words."
Irish born academic, writer, poet
Reading and Writing Reinforce each other
Children who have trouble reading often have difficulties writing as well.
As your child learns to write, they will be reinforcing their understanding of words. If a child can read and write a word, then they know that word. Reading and writing knowledge are very closely linked together in the early stages of learning at school. Later reading skills draw ahead of writing.
Writing Letters and Words
Writing letters, high frequency words and then sentences helps your child to pay attention to the shape of the letters, the order of the letters and the message that they have created. Ask your school for a copy of how the letter is formed correctly and in what sequence the strokes or circles are made.
Do not write words in capitals. This habit is very hard for children to break. eg cAN
Children learning about language hear the sounds of letters and words and must experiment with sounds and match them to letters or clusters of letters in order to try and write the word correctly.
Remembering what the word looks like is an important skill in being able to write the word correctly. Reading and writing go hand in hand. The more they read, the better they write. The more they write, the better they read.
Focus on the letters and words that you know your child can write. Really practise these lots. Then practise them a lot more. The quicker they can write them the better.
• on paper with pencil or texta,
• in chalk on the concrete,
• on your back with their finger,
• in shaving cream on the table,
• paint them on paper,
• make models of them in plasticine, then trace over with finger,
• use magnetic letters and make up the word quickly. Only give them the required letters. Jumble and then remake the word again. Do this regularly. The kids love this activity.
Work on five or six letters or words until they are fluent. Then learn to write a letter or word they almost know.
Daily writing of letters, words and stories or diaries as a joint activity is as important as daily reading. When writing stories children are going from:
• using their own ideas
• to using their own language
• to writing their story
• to reading their story
Today, just as children have to read a variety of types of written material, they also have to be able to write various styles of text. These styles are called “genre”. For lots of parents this can be a bit scary with lots of words that teachers mention.
Each writing style will have its own conventions; e.g. a poem is very different to a recipe. Show your child using a printed book what that style of writing or genre looks like and then they can copy the style.
String sentences are a great way to improve the vocabulary and interest children’s stories. It allows children them to learn about how language works and to experiment with chunks of their own writing. It is fun and easy.
An example of the string sentence is taking a child's story "The cat sat on the mat." and talking to your child about the cat, sat and mat. Add in describing words in a word play game until your child has developed a more interesting sentence combining your language and theirs. It is fun and easy. Oral language is very important in the process. You write down the final sentence to avoid the child becoming frustrated with spelling more tricky words.
Your new jointly constructed sentence could be..."The slinky, black cat sat sleepily in the sun on the shaggy, flea ridden mat." This is an excellent game to play while driving in the car.
Editing is a skill that should be practised at a separate time from writing. The last thing your child will want to do is write and then have to check spelling, punctuation and grammar. At another time tell your child that both of you are going to edit their writing together. Ask them to re-read their story. During this time they will probably notice if the words do not make sense and fix up these errors on the run. Then ask, “What would you like to check first - spelling or punctuation?”
Spelling: (6 year olds and above)
Using a different coloured pencil, texta or gel pen, ask them to circle any words that they know are incorrect. Most good spellers have good visual memories for words, so this is an excellent skill to work on. Once they have circled the words, choose three words only per writing piece.
Check spelling for topic words using the text they got the information out of.
Check almost correct words eg flow....spelt fow by saying the word slowly for them and hearing the missing letter which the child then adds to the word.
Check spelling for words that have initial letters correct using a dictionary. (This is the most difficult so use a picture dictionary and very, very sparingly)
Check spelling using a spell and grammar check on the computer. This does not improve the child's editing skill but does open up a world of writing for reluctant writers.
Make sure high frequency words such as they, is,the, from, are spelt correctly all the time. Each time a child writes a word incorrectly it takes 100x to correct the motor and memory storage program. Let's get these words that they need daily right the first time.
Grammar (7 to 10-year-olds and above)
Capital letters and full stops .
question marks ?
exclamation marks !
"Our greatest glory is not in never falling but in rising every time we fall."