Trying to get your child to do any kind of writing can be a challenge - we all know the tears and trauma involved in trying to get thank you cards written!! But when the pressure is taken off and children are able to explore and write on their own terms they really enjoy it. So how can you encourage your child to choose to write or mark make on their own?
Writing trays are a great addition to any play space at home and you need very little to set them up. The idea of a writing tray is that you give your child the tools and equipment to write in a range of different ways, usually linked to what they are playing. Good examples of this are: creating a menu if you have cooked together, writing post cards, creating their own book, writing the rules of a game or creating a poster for their bedroom door.
What to put in your writing tray - most of these things you will find around the house:
Envelopes of all shapes, sizes and colours. (There are so many different role play situations where children can write on envelopes - creating their own business/ arranging a party/ creating a game...)
Post it notes. (A staple must!)
Old diaries, calendars or notes books. (Empty forms that you receive as junk mail and are going to throw into the recycling bin are great too - children love filling out things that they see as adult.)
Card/paper of any shape, size or colour. (Try folding a few sheets of paper into halves or quarters to create little books.)
A pot of colour and writing pencils. ( If your child is younger triangular shaped pencils are particularly good as they help establish a good pencil grip.)
A pot of brightly coloured pens, highlighters/crayons or pastels. ( It is good to give children lots of different types of resources to write with and they will find using a range of bright colours fun.)
Children's scissors/ a stick of glue/ sellotape/ rulers / stickers. (These allow children take their writing and make it into something special - a book/ a poster/ a certificate - wherever their imagination takes them.)
Old magazines or newspaper. (Giving your child range of pictures they can cut up gives them a starting point to spark their imagination.)
If your child has started school a guide that shows your child how to form each letter can be really helpful and stops you having to repeatedly write out letters. (Ask your child's school for one as they teach letter formation in different ways depending on when the children start writing in a cursive style.)
Having a range of sound mats your child can look at when they are trying to sound out words can build independence. (You can download Phase 2 -5 sound mats from the internet.)
Remember the key to a successful writer is enjoyment. Don't worry too much about spellings or what your child is writing about - these will come later. What is most important is that they want to and are choosing to write using their own imagination.
We really hope these ideas spark your child's imagination and inspire lots of creative writing.
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Also look out for our next Phonics and Reading Workshop coming to areas in Surrey and Hampshire very soon.