Good writing skills are incredibly important–so much so that some experts consider the ability to write well the most important indicator of future academic success in college. Good writing also helps people succeed in the working world as well. One study indicates that poor grammar alone can hold someone back from career advancement. While it's hard to think of your preschooler as a future college student or career professional, you should–because this is the perfect time to start encouraging your child's budding writing skills. Here's what you should know.
When should you start encouraging your child to write?
Young children live in a world that is populated by all sorts of fantasy and children love hearing stories, reading stories, and telling stories. If you give your child plenty of creative writing time, your child can start to naturally and easily develop those all-so-important writing skills.
While your preschooler's first attempts at writing will be mostly scribbles, it's not too early to start putting a crayon in his or her hand at 12 months. By 18 months, you'll have an expert scribbler on your hand.
How should you set up the child's writing area to encourage development?
To further your child's interest in writing, there are certain steps you can take to make the environment "writer-friendly."
- Provide a designated writing area. A child-sized desk and chair set is ideal, but a place at the grown-up's table can work well also. Some children like to pretend to "work" at a desk, too, especially if they're imitating a parent. Writing should be all about fun and play at this stage.
- Stock the area with plenty of lined and unlined paper. Make sure that you keep colored pens, crayons, and colored pencils on hand. Children enjoy the use of vibrant colors when they write.
- Buy a book that's designed to teach the alphabet along with a few words for each letter. Your child may learn to imitate the letters and words without even realizing he or she is learning them.
How else can you encourage writing skills?
Children are natural storytellers, so spend some time each day asking your child about what he or she has written (even if that writing is mostly random scribbling). Focus on your child's creativity and guide him or her into giving you a beginning, middle, and end to each tale.
You can also subtly encourage writing development in other ways:
- Gently correct obvious grammar mistakes as your child talks but don't focus on it as an issue. For example, if your child says, "The boy kick the ball," say, "The boy kicks the ball. Then what happened?" That allows your child to hear the correct way without interrupting the story.
- Offer your child writing prompts. Writing prompts are designed to provoke an idea in your child's mind and spark a little creative thinking. Prompts can include things like "What type of super power do you want to have?" or "Who is your best friend and why?"
- Ask your child to help you. For example, give your child some junk mail and ask him or her to help you send letters to the companies or write out pretend bills. You can also enlist your child to help you make the "grocery list" for the next time you head to the store.
The preschool years are the perfect time to start developing your child's writing skills. If you wait until they start kindergarten, you'll have missed some prime opportunities for your child to get a step ahead. Contact a company like Small World Early Learning & Development Center for more information.