According to Kathy McGee, Educational Specialist in Language and Literacy at Canterbury Elementary School, you should encourage your child to write just as their literacy starts to develop, around two to four years of age. Of course, you don't want to overwhelm your child with daunting tasks and exercises that are far too challenging. Start small, getting them interested in writing and proud of the work that they can do.
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Change the Ending
This activity is an appropriate introduction to writing because it allows the child to be in control and creative, yet forces him to examine the act of writing. Sit with your child and read to him a picture book that he's never seen before. One or two pages before you get to the ending, close the book. Ask your child what he thinks will happen or what he wants to happen. In very simple sentences, write out your child's ideas and show them to him, reading each sentence aloud. Open the book back up and read the real ending of the story together.
This activity is appropriate for children who can already print the alphabet with ease. It should be a big hit with most kids, because children often enjoy itemising the things that they want. Tell your child that she can have a very special grocery list of things just for her. However, in order for you to buy these things, she has to write down her items, neatly printed on a list and spelt correctly. Encourage her to at first work by herself and search through the products in the kitchen already to find the correct spelling; for example, she can find an almost empty package of cookies and print the word "cookies" on the list. Check the list with her and gently correct any mistakes.
Recounting an Event
Kids need to learn that a big part of storytelling is recounting an event, and they need to be able to tell a well-rounded recount of something they did or an experience that they had, complete with a beginning, middle and end. Ask your child to pick a fun day that they recently experienced, such as a birthday party. Give your child three pieces of paper and ask him to draw three separate pictures: one to represent the beginning of the party, one to represent the middle of the party and one to represent the end of the party. Once his drawings are finished, tell him to write a simple caption underneath each picture. Help him with any words he doesn't know how to spell.
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