More Tips for Promoting Early Literacy
In Some Tips for Promoting Early Literacy, the importance of reading was discussed. But what about the other side of literacy, writing?
While your child will not be writing the Great American Novel anytime soon, encouraging writing and writing-related activities also promotes literacy. Making the lines and strokes as they scribble will help them when it comes time to learning how to make letters and numbers.
Around a year, it is safe to introduce crayons, finger paints and other writing utensils and art supplies to your child under supervision. You know your child best, so you can determine when the best time really is for your situation. Allowing your child to scribble, draw and paint encourages both gross and fine motor development. You can get in on the activity too, unleashing your own inner child and creating little masterpieces with them.
As your child gets older and their markings become more distinctive (and distinguishable) you can discuss those marks with them and how they may be similar to shapes and letters. For instance, when she makes a circle, you can also say, for example: “that’s a great circle. You know what? It also looks like the letter O.”
- Prepare your art area before starting the “project.” That may mean putting a sheet or tarp on the floor, covering the table with newspaper or waxed paper, and being ready with towels and wet cloths for clean-up.
- Get all of the supplies that you will be using before starting the activity.
- If your child is prone to putting everything in his mouth, get the pacifier ready ahead of time, so that you don’t have to worry about paint getting eaten (Even if it is non-toxic, it’s not meant to be consumed.)
- Use child-friendly products like the triangular-shaped crayons and paints by Crayola. If you are using larger tubes of finger paint, place the colors in separate containers like bathroom cups, or in dollops on a piece of waxed paper.
- Get your child ready with a smock (which can be as simple as an old shirt put on her backwards), or if it’s near bath time, strip her down to her diaper.
- Allow for free play and creativity with wild abandon while making art.
- Consider your child’s attention span. If they are showing signs that they are done, by losing interest in the activity, end it. Do a quick clean up and move on to something else. On the other hand, if they are really enjoying it, don’t hesitate to let it go longer than you may have initially intended if it makes sense to do so.
- Write with your child and around your child. As with reading in front of your child as well as with him, seeing you write will encourage him to want to as well. Show him how to spell his name. He might not “get it” at first, but he’ll be thrilled to see his name in print and start to identify those letters.
- Encourage story-telling about her pictures. What may seem to be a bunch of scribbles to you, might have an entire story line behind it for her. When she’s bigger, you can then write the story as she’s dictating it to you, and later read it together.
- After a trip to the park, zoo, to grandma’s house?where ever?encourage drawing a picture about it later. Then, you can tell the story about it as in the tip above.
Make writing and reading fun and you may instill a love of words that will last a lifetime and promote future academic and life success.