Raising Your Child to Love Writing

All children love making marks and expressing themselves, which should theoretically nurture in them a special affinity for writing, and with steadily improving control over fine motor skills, most preschoolers will be attempting to write letters and numbers in no time. Here are a few suggestions to help foster the love for writing and learning in your child:

Keep it fun and experiment with different tools. Never make writing a tedious and anxiety-inducing activity for your child by putting too much pressure on your preschooler to perform. Keep the process fun by giving your preschooler plenty of opportunities to use different mediums such as chalk, markers, crayons, paint, and colored pencils to make writing a creative experience. Keep all these supplies in a special drawer and in easy reach of your preschooler. 

Use various writing surfaces. Just as using different writing tools makes writing a more interesting process, so does using various writing surfaces. One basic surface that you should always have on hand is regular white paper, but also add some inexpensive newsprint pads, as most children love having a wide space to scribble on. You could also get a chalkboard or an erase board. If you're worried about the mess, designate a corner in your kitchen or playroom where minor messes won't matter, and place a small table and chair for your preschooler there. 
 
Be a good role model. Your preschooler will feel more enthusiastic about writing if it sees you writing on a daily basis, as most children at that age tend to be copycats and enjoy mimicking adults in their daily activities.

Be enthusiastic. Encourage your child's interest in writing or drawing by showing interest in what it's doing, giving praise on specific things. Use specific encouraging complements such as "It's wonderful how you're learning to write your name!" instead of vague complements like "What a good writer you're becoming!"


Learning Strategies for Different Types of Learners

There are generally three types of learners: physical learners, auditory learners and visual learners. Find out under which category your preschooler falls so you can expose them to the right type of developmental activities. 

1. Physical Learners

Use sand to write words. You can have your child write words or letters in things such as sand, glitter, or cake sprinkles to make the process more interesting. You could also have it form letters and words from cookie dough and eat the end result.
Use play dough to form words. Create large, laminated flashcards with letters or simple words written on them and have your child use strings of dough or clay to trace the words or letters. In addition to making learning alphabets and words more fun, using clay will help develop your child's fine motor skills. 


2. Auditory Learners

Take dictation. Have your preschooler choose different words and write them down in front of it to establish a greater understanding of how spoken and written words are connected. When your child is more adept at writing, switch places. 
Describe pictures. Leaf through a magazine with your preschooler and have your child describe each picture, then use the words your preschooler chose to write captions on the pictures.

3. Visual Learners

Play with alphabet refrigerator magnets. Fridge letter magnets are a great way of getting your child excited about forming words and learning how to spell. You could also use the magnets on a cookie tray to make them easier for your preschooler to use.
Make an alphabet book. By folding a piece of construction paper in half, inserting some white pages and stapling the end product together, you can form a book that you can have your child fill with different letters of the alphabet. Designate one page for each letter in both its upper and lower case forms. 



Recognizing a Writing Problem

If your child is experiencing some difficulty writing, it doesn't necessarily mean that it has a writing problem or learning disability. Talk to its teacher if you feel there is cause for concern and see if she recommends particular types of writing practice or whether your little one needs to see a specialist. The following signs may indicate that your child might have a learning disability:

• Reluctance to draw or trace
• Difficulty in distinguishing left from right
• Inability to comfortably hold a pencil or crayon
• Inability to stick to a task long enough to improve at it
• Extreme restlessness