There are many benefits to teaching the youngest students to write: writing enhances readiness and prereading skills; writers are thinkers; writing benefits communication skills; writing encourages responsible decision making; writing enhances self-esteem; writing helps all areas of your curriculum; writing vents emotions; the writing experience leads to creativity; and writing is fun!
Communication with parents is crucial to the success of your writing program. When parents know what you’re doing and why, they provide important backup and assistance when necessary. Begin talking to parents about the writing program as early as possible. This puts parents in the picture right away and provides a basis for later communication concerning the writing program. Parents need to know especially about temporary spelling so they don’t discourage the child with criticism.
At the beginning of the school year I send home the following letter:
Welcome to the world of kindergarten (or first grade). Your child will learn so many new things this year I feel I must prepare you for one important area.
I am using a writing program this year that will not only show children how to write but will also help them be better readers later. Research has shown that children taught this way not only learn their readiness and prereading skills more readily but also retain them better.
In the past it was believed that children couldn’t learn to read or write until they were taught all their letters and sounds. Children can write before learning these skills! They write by dictation, scribbles, drawings, and temporary spelling. When children use the temporary spelling, they write words using the phonetic sounds, usually the consonants first with the vowels added later. In the past we were unaware of the importance of the scribble, drawing, and temporary spelling, but we now know each of these is a normal stage of writing development.
When your children are in school I will encourage them to write using whatever method they think suits them best. Would you please encourage them to write at home also? If your child comes to you with a scribble, drawing, or temporary spelling, ask, “What have you written?” Take the time to print their words before their eyes. Your children will learn so much by your example and by their observation of you accomplishing writing. Don’t be concerned (at least for now) with neatness, correct spelling, and punctuation. We’ll work on that after the kids are off to a good start. Do be concerned about what the children have communicated to you by their writing. This is the important part.
Please give your children lots of praise, and encourage them to write to relatives and friends. Let them compose the grocery lists and write notes to you. While children write, they read and use high-level thinking skills. This sets the stage for a productive educational experience.
If you have any questions, I would be delighted to visit with you whenever it is convenient.