Writing for Early Learners

Middle School StudentEarly learners are an awesome age to teach. They are always so excited about everything. I enjoy working with this eagerness and, in fact, it makes teaching them so much more enjoyable. When I work with early learners (usually between preschool and first grade) I like to make learning as fun as possible and writing is no exception.

Just because they are young doesn’t mean that they can’t “write.” They usually can do a whole lot more than we give them credit for. I like to see how excited they get when they are able to write their own stories! Here are several fun activities that I enjoy using with early learners while we learn how to write.

1) For non-readers you can always do an LEA (Language Experience Approach) project. I like doing this in conjunction with a field trip or a fun outdoor exercise. Since it is fall right now a great adventure would be to take a nature walk and then return for this writing project. I like to use a large piece of paper and then I get them all excited about writing a story about our recent trip. They help me decide on a title, and then I ask them questions (prompts) from which they make a statement. I write each sentence they give me down on the piece of paper and as we work through what we did on our recent nature walk… we make a story. Once finished, I will read the story to them. They usually love it!

2) For beginning readers, I like to read a story or have an adventure, field trip, nature walk, or even a recent vacation. I’ll put several key words on a board (usually the most difficult words) and then we will work on writing a story together. Wording the statement and then help with writing down and sounding out the words that will make up the story. A fun finish is to draw a picture to illustrate the story.

3) For more accomplished readers, I like to base our story on some recent event just like I mentioned before. I typically start these writers out with a story prompt. It may be something silly or even totally pretend. I like this website for free story starter templates. If you just want to get them writing without an “experience” to base it on, there are alot of great creative writing helps. I really enjoy the books in the “Don’t forget to Write” series.

Preparing a child to write hinges on their phonetical foundation. Teaching a child to read by using phonics method, and building each letter and each sound allows the child to be able to work backward from that and “dissect” or “decode” words in order to write.  As I work with my young learners, I am amazed at how this process works. We typically start with letter sounds, building to consonant/vowel blends, consonant blends, syllables, special rules, and then begin with spelling words.  All of it builds in a spiral effect and hinges upon the mastery of the previous concept. As you teach your child how to read, be sure to include writing practice times as well. This gives them an opportunity to think critically about their reading. Using this method will definitely help alleviate the need for writing homework help, and give your child a sense of confidence in their reading and writing skills.

Motivating Kids to Write

At our house the two biggest school issues always tend to derive from either writing or reading. For some reason, most of my six children just do not enjoy one or the other of those skills. This happens to be why I have recently been studying reading and writing skills and how to motivate my reluctant learners. We have tried many things in the past to get them writing from writing games to learning vocabulary definitions and writing from those…

After all the reading, printing, and studying… guess what I figured out? Motivating a child to read and write boils down to two simple things…

1) To motivate… find something that interests your child and maximize on it! Read a book that they enjoy, and then write a story about what they read. Go somewhere that they enjoy and then come home and write about it. If you can pique their interests… they will enjoy the writing.

2) If you want your child to become a good writer… they will need to write OFTEN! Basically, it’s just like lifting weights. The more you practice, the better you will be!

Two simple things, yet not so easy to put into practice. We have started really playing on the motivation… and that sure does seem to work… which of course in turn helps them write more! So, as we apply these two simple steps (though still grudgingly some days) things are looking up!