How to help your child with writing

alphabet

Your child will complete a range of writing tasks at school, but there are many ways to support the development of their writing at home.

Create a writing box containing different pens, pencils, chalks, stamps etc. Children love to write on different kinds of paper; scraps are fine, sticky notes are also good. Old envelopes can be reused and children can write letters and messages. Children can be encouraged to write for a huge range of different purposes, from shopping lists to thank you letters, from labels to signs. As with reading, it is important to be a model for your child, let them see you writing and where possible write things together. Make mistakes and correct them, showing your child that writing doesn't have to be perfect first time.

Handwriting requires developed fine motor skills, the coordination of small muscle movements in the hands. You can help your child to develop these skills in a number of creative ways. Drawing with their fingers in sand, paint, or even shaving foam will help children to form letters on a large scale. Making shapes with pipe cleaners or play dough, threading beads onto wool or string, picking up beads with tweezers, the ideas are endless. Any activity which involves manipulation of the fingers and hand-eye coordination is helpful for your child. These pre-writing activities should be fun, not pressurised! Drawing or tracing patterns and shapes with pens or pencils will also help your child tackle formal handwriting in school.

As your child begins to write letters from their name, gently encourage good pencil grip and show them how to form letters correctly. You could show your child how to form the letters in their name on large paper with a paintbrush. This also works on a wall using water instead of paint. Writing doesn’t have to be restricted to a pencil and paper. Of course, at this stage, you do not need to insist upon correct letter formation every time your child writes, but if good habits are beginning to form now, it will help your child in the future.

Create a story bag with a number of items inside to encourage imaginative writing. For example, you could include a rusty old key, a torn map, a toy telescope, a compass, a feather, an interesting shell or stone, a piece of old jewellery or anything else that seems mysterious. Your child can choose an item from the bag and you can talk about who it might belong to, where it might have come from, why the person doesn’t have it now, anything to fire your child’s imagination. Then together you could write a short story about the object.

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Imagination plays an important role in writing, even before children are able to write legibly. Oral storytelling and imaginative play will help children later in their education when they are writing independently.