Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Write On!

Reading, writing, talking, singing and playing are the five primary early literacy practices that the library promotes in our storytimes, programs, and conversations with parents and caregivers. Many parents wonder at first about the “writing” component of this list. Most children won’t write intelligibly until they are older, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t encourage the elemental foundation of writing from a very early age.

Children naturally want to imitate the things they see us doing, so making to-do lists, generating grocery lists, and composing lists of books to look for at the library are all common tasks that may spark an interest in writing for them. Thank-you notes from children, even when they’re not entirely legible, are always a joy to receive. Resorting to good, old-fashioned pencils and paper instead of a keyboard will show them that the act of writing still serves a purpose. While it’s true that keyboards will probably be their primary tool in the future, there are definite benefits to learning to write and form the letters they’re learning to recognize in print. The physical act of holding a pencil or crayon has the extra perk of stimulating certain pathways in the brain that add to their readiness to read in the future. Taking it a step further, cursive writing has been found to help the brain learn how to better integrate visual and tactile information, and develops even greater fine motor dexterity.

Making sure there are always writing utensils nearby is the first step in creating a “writing-friendly” home. Chalk boards, white boards, or large pads of newsprint, and plenty of crayons, pencils, and markers give them the opportunity to practice writing on a blank surface. I know it may sound scary to leave those things within reach, but at least having them readily available on request will make it easier for them to indulge a desire to “make their mark” on a blank sheet. There is even paint you can buy that simulates a chalk board, making an entire wall eligible and ready for decoration and letter-writing practice. Sidewalk chalk is a great choice for outdoor practice, and special notepads or cards for letters to grandparents, teachers, or cousins can make the exercise even more meaningful. So encourage the writers in your house, as young as they may be. You may find some fan mail waiting for you in the future!

Guest post by Bridget W. 

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