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Using Language to Learn: Writing

begin writing 85Preschoolers need to practice using the small muscles in their fingers and hands.

Encourage your child to do things such as brushing teeth, buttoning and zipping clothes, and using forks and spoons without help.

Ask your child to help you do real jobs, such as sorting and folding laundry, sweeping the porch, and making the beds.

Play with your child. Together you can thread beads on laces, do puzzles, and roll or pound homemade play dough.

Ask your child's caregiver for ideas she may have.

Preschoolers learn about writing when they see how people use writing every day.

Let your child see you write every day. When you make a note on the calendar, write a shopping list, sign in at the doctor's office, or take down a telephone message, talk to your child about what you're writing: "I'm writing a letter to Aunt Alice. Would you like to tell her about our walk to the library?"

Show your child the words around us -- cookbooks, shampoo, coupons, buses, street signs, and buildings -- and illustrate their purpose. Hold up two cans of soup and say: "What kind of soup should we have -- chicken noodle or vegetable?"

Preschoolers like to do their own writing.

Make sure your child has writing materials and places to write. Look around the house for items your child can use for writing -- any kind of paper, crayons, markers, pencils. Put the writing materials in an open box on a low shelf or in a bottom drawer in the kitchen so that he can reach them without your help.

Set up a place for writing in the room where your family spends the most time. For example, you can shorten the legs on an old chair and table to make them the right height for your child, or you can often find secondhand, child-size furniture at thrift shops and yard sales. Keep catalogs and other writing materials in shoeboxes on the table.

Talk with your child about how to write. If your child asks you how to make a letter, spell a name, or write a word, show her how to do it. Otherwise, let your child write in her own way. You may not be able to read the writing, but she can read it to you. Over time, she will learn how to write words that others can read.

Source: America Reads Challenge: Ready*Set*Read for Families, America Reads

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