Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Pick Up The Pencil/Hit The Keyboard

Writing Every Day
Second Most Important Way To Help Students Succeed

Give that child a chance to write and then read his own thoughts. Call it what you will but just do it: putting down the letters of your name, practicing writing those abc's, writing a one or two sentence story, keeping a journal, taking notes when someone speaks, doodling and adding words and phrases, clicking letters on the computer keyboard, writing words in the sand/dirt, etc.
Just the process of making a mark to express an idea/activity/emotion helps you understand and remember that idea/activity/emotion.
And this is a worthy habit too for adults of any age. And here's the secret for getting started whether you are two or twenty-two or seventy-two: just do it and don't worry about everything being correct. You will learn by doing but if you never do the doing, you will never learn how to write even a simple sentence. I think that showing your children that you write inspires them just as much as showing them that you read. Kids want to mimic their parents. So show them that you do it. You show them that you get ahead by being a steady worker on a job. You show them that faith grows when you go to church. You show them how to write by writing. Leave notes for your children in the lunch box that they take to school. Leave notes on the fridge where they will see them when looking for an after school snack. Write thank you notes for gifts you receive and they will want to write thank you notes for gifts they receive.
You say you can't afford notebooks and good paper. Well use used paper like newspapers, the backsides of all those advertising letters you get in the mail, and those brown paper bags you get at the store. Kids love making their mark on things so create your own graffiti wall in your basement. Writing is like reading in that the more you do it the more you want to do it and the easier it becomes. Make word lists. I know you all make a grocery list, let the kids make their own grocery list of what they want to buy at the grocery store or drug store. Oh, wouldn't it be fun to write/scribble on that used wrapping paper or that used Chinese takeout box!
Kids take to computers today like ducks take to water. Have a little writing time each day for each one on the computer. Here's an idea: pull up a photo on the keyboard of something they have recently done or of a person or pet they like and let them put down their thoughts about that image. For kindergartners you can slowly sing the ABC song while typing the letters for them to see. Everyone loves to see their own name in print. Write their name. Write it big. Write it small. Then change the color of their name. Then change the font for their name----there's a history and geography lesson right there. Then expand this to the names of relatives, pets, friends, story characters on TV, etc. Write letters to Grandma, the tooth fairy, the Great Pumpkin, Santa Claus, the President!

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