We often forget that reading and writing go hand in hand. If we want to be a better reader, we need to write more. Conversely, if we want to be a better writer, we need to read more. Parents can help children reach higher levels of literacy not only by reading with them, but by writing with them, too. By weaving writing into the fabric of your family’s daily life, you are nurturing your child’s learning and can create traditions that will last for generations to come.
Creating a Write Start Environment
If we want to encourage a love of anything, we must immerse ourselves in it. Therefore, in order to encourage a love for writing in our families, we must immerse our families in writing. The easiest way to do this is to provide many opportunities to write during the day and to have writing materials easily accessible. Make your house writer friendly. Set up a writing center for your children – a space to free write. Provide plenty of writing tools: pencils, pens, crayons, colored pencils and markers. Provide different types of paper: lined paper, plain paper, stationery, envelopes, notepads, etc. Don’t forget construction paper, glue, and staplers for children to make their own books. Make the space fun and inviting.
Make Writing Relevant
Writing is learned best when it occurs in authentic situations. So, tie writing into what you are doing as a family. This may be as simple as having your child write out the grocery list for the week, write a recipe for his/her favorite meal, or to write thank you notes for gifts received. Special ways to make writing authentic: create Family Vacation Journals. Take pictures to paste in the journal and write about the event. Or create Family Activity Journals. You or your child can take pictures of day to day family activities. Place the photograph in the journal and then write about it. Aim to take one picture a day. One very special and easy way to encourage writing is by encouraging your child to begin a correspondence with a family member or other type of pen pal. A grandparent is a perfect candidate, especially if they don’t live nearby. Writing letters or even emails is a great way for your children to share their daily/weekly/monthly activities with their grandparent. And each will enjoy receiving mail from the other.
Make Writing a Family Tradition
Make writing a part of your family’s activities and it will quickly become tradition. Create a weekly family writing night. During these evenings, take turns adding to a Family History Journal. Have each family member write about something special that happened during the week. If you have a child who is not yet writing, have them draw a picture. Create Father/Son or Mother/Daughter dialogue journals. Use these journals to “talk” with your pre-teen or teenager about their day. They may feel more comfortable sharing events in their lives if they don’t actually have to verbalize them. Use the dialogue journal to ask questions and seek answers, to provide encouragement, or to apologize.
However you choose to incorporate writing into the fold of your family’s fabric, I hope you create family traditions that live for generations to come. What sweet memories they will hold as your children grow up, move on, and have children of their own.
This post originally appeared as an article in Literacy Lava 3.
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