|The desire to write starts early!|
This is a revised version of a post that I did in 2013. I thought that I'd revisit it.
Children begin to write early - very early! In fact, they begin to make marks on their world as soon as they can dip fingers into food, water and dirt. Once they can hold a pencil or crayon they are ready to 'compose'! It is important that in the first two years of life that children are given the chance to experience writing. By this, I don't mean structured learning activities, I simply mean an encouragement to try to make marks that might just represent meaning. Very early on children will scribble or make marks and attribute meaning to it.
There are many simple ways to encourage children to write:
a) Provide them with varied writing implements and materials to write on.
b) Encourage them to try to write letters and words.
c) Let them see you writing words and letters.
d) Encourage them to write their name, numbers and letters.
e) Let them see you writing and reading words at the same time.
Rich experiences of early writing have an impact on language and learning generally, and certainly reading. Offering rich early experiences for writing are as important as reading to and with your children. As well, children who have rich early reading experiences will often be more precocious as writers. To illustrate the interrelatedness of all aspects of language and meaning making, I want to suggest eight ways that early writing reinforces reading.
|Photo from TTALL Literacy Project|
2. Reading offers models for writing - Reading also introduces us to varied ways to share a story, and how to start a story and end it. It helps us to learn how to develop a character, the art of description, humour, rhyme and rhythm. Dr Seuss is a master at such lessons.
3. Reading teaches us about 'readership' -When children begin to have books read to them, and later begin to read for themselves, they realize that these stories have been written for them, the reader. Good writing requires a sense of audience, and stories read teach this. When children begin receiving letters, cards, or simply being shown print in their world, they begin to grasp that language isn't just to be received, but can also be created and shared with others as a writer. They also learn that if you write for readers, and receive responses, that this is enjoyable and strengthens relationships.
|An early letter from Elsie|
4. Reading enriches language - There is no doubt that reading feeds children's writing. It introduces children to new words, novel use for old words, and the very important need to 'play' with language if you are to be a successful writer. Robert Ingpen's book 'The Idle Bear' demonstrates this well. It is essentially a conversation between two bears but it is rich in language and metaphor. He starts this way:
"What kind of bear are you?" asked TedLater in the story a very confused bear asks:
"I'm an idle Bear."
"But don't you have a name like me?"
"Yes, but my name is Teddy. All bears like us are called Teddy."
"Where do you come from, Ted?"
"From an idea," said Ted definitely.
"But ideas are not real, they are only made-up," said Teddy. "You have to come from somewhere real to have realitives."
"Not realitives, relatives!" said Ted trying to hide his confusion.
|Elsie's TV instructions|
My granddaughter Elsie's 'TV Instructions' (left), written aged five years, is a priceless set of instructions that she wrote for her Nanna just before she went to bed, so that Nanna could watch her favourite programs while babysitting.
6. Reading helps us to understand the power of words - Stories and other texts quickly teach children that words can have power. Signs give clear instructions in powerful ways - 'STOP', 'BEWARE OF THE DOG', 'CHILDREN CROSSING', 'KEEP OUT'. But well-chosen words express emotions too - "I love you", "It was dark and scary". Children also discover that words can do other things. With help they will enjoy discovering language forms like onomatopoeia, e.g. atishoo, croak, woof, miaow, sizzle, rustle etc.
You can read all my other posts on writing HERE