Sarah Morris, from Primrose preschools, shares a post with us today about how to cultivate a great love of literacy with children. ~EMP

Young children love to imitate what the adults in their lives are doing. They will happily “clean” the house while Mom performs her chores or “mow” the lawn in imitation of Dad. If they see their grown-ups writing letters, cards and lists, they will enjoy creating their own missives. First comes ‘scribble writing,’ those squiggles on paper that kids produce and wise parents cherish. From these efforts will grow the idea that writing is fun.

Reading to children often and encouraging them to associate words with the story and pictures will help them learn that writing can convey a message. The daily book a child enjoys with a parent can lead to greater success with reading and other academic work. Writing also plays into this. Having a child draw some pictures from the story and then “write” about what he drew will bring out creative expression and enjoyment.

Parents who want to encourage their children to write need to simply accept the first efforts at letter formation. Those little hands have not yet developed the fine coordination needed to produce recognizable letters. Instead, allow the child to play with writing so the process becomes familiar and doesn’t seem difficult.

Children can make cards for friends and family members. It doesn’t matter what the picture represents or how the ‘letters’ look. At this age, the experience is far more important than the product. Exploring with paper and markers, crayons or pencil will stimulate the child’s desire to tell her own stories. It is best not to ask what the picture or writing is about. Instead, talk about how much the child likes to draw. Discuss the colors and shapes. Let her tell the story if she wants.

After plenty of practice with ‘scribble writing’ a child is prepared to move on to actual letter formation. Parents should again take this slowly and follow the child’s lead. The first letter is usually the beginning of the child’s name. If he says that is the letter he wrote, accept this as fact and compliment his efforts. Research shows that praising a child’s efforts on the way to a goal will provide much greater encouragement than praising an achievement.

Look for opportunities. Provide writing materials whenever parent and child are in a waiting room or at a restaurant table. This will help to curb boredom and keep the child engaged, happily practicing those all-important writing skills.

Provide materials for the child to use, and she will jump in with all the enthusiasm of the young and innocent. Paper of all types and various writing implements will encourage creative exploration of the world of writing. By supporting the child’s natural inclination to imitate what adults do, parents can soon realize that their child is well on his way to producing that first novel or term paper.


Sarah Morris on behalf of Primrose preschools– where your child gets the best foundation in education.