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Write On!

begin writing 85Reading and writing support each other. The more your child does of each, the better she will be at both.

The first activities in the list below work well with younger children. As your child grows older, the later activities let her do more. But keep doing the first ones as long as she enjoys them.

1. Write with your child. From the time she is almost a preschooler, she will learn a lot about writing by watching you write. Talk about your writing with her so she begins to understand that writing means something and has many uses.

2. Have your young preschooler use her way of writing -- perhaps just a scribble -- to sign birthday cards or make lists.

3. Hang a family message board in the kitchen. Offer to write notes there for your child. Be sure she finds notes left for her there.

4. Ask your preschooler to tell you simple stories while you write them down. Question her if you don't understand something.

5. Encourage your preschooler to write her name and practice writing it with her. Remember, at first she may use only the first letter or two of her name.

6. Help your child write notes to relatives and friends to thank them for gifts or share her thoughts. Encourage them to answer your child with a note.

7. When she is in kindergarten, she will begin to write words the way she hears them. For example, she might write "haf" for have, "frn" for friend, "Frd"for Fred. Ask her to read her "writing" to you. Don't be concerned with correct spelling. She will learn that later.

8. As your child gets older, she can begin to write or tell you longer stories. Ask questions that will help her organize the stories. Answer questions about letters and spelling.

9. Turn your child's writing into books. Paste her drawings and writings on pieces of construction paper. Make a cover out of heavier paper or cardboard; add special art, a title, and her name as author. Punch holes in the pages and cover, and bind the book together with yarn or ribbon.

When a child is just beginning, she tries different ways to write and spell. Our job as parents is to encourage our children's writing so they will enjoy putting what they think on paper.

Source: Helping Your Child Become a Reader, U.S. Department of Education

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