1st Grade Writing
The Diary of a First Grade Teacher

How to Help Your Child Learn to Write

1st Grade Writing - Yes, you can help your child learn to write, as in compose. Here’s how to make it easier and more enjoyable …

  • The “Write” Spot - It's important to provide your child with a well-lighted place to write. Feet should touch the floor. And the arms should lie flatly and comfortably on a smooth, flat surface.
  • The “Write” Materials - Be sure to have plenty of lined paper. I suggest buying the kind that your child’s teacher uses in the classroom. Along with regular pencils, pick up boxes of colored pencils and crayons for your 1st grader to use at home.
  • 1st Grade Writing or Vocabulary Games - Use games and puzzles designed for first graders to help your child become more fluent in speaking and in writing. Remember, building a vocabulary builds confidence. Flash cards are good, too, and easy to make.
  • Communicate in Writing - Motivate your child to WANT TO WRITE. Start by writing notes ... For example, place a SHORT note in his or her lunch bag, on the bathroom mirror, under the pillow, or in the sock drawer.
  • Here are my recommendations ... Make it one word or one SHORT sentence. Use simple words - See the Dolch Sight Words and also Fry's High Frequency Word List. Print. Do not write in cursive. Capitalize only the letters that SHOULD BE capitalized. Write letters about ½” tall, minimum. Make it fun or silly … For example, The cat ate your socks!Keep this foremost in your mind … You are teaching your child that writing is about expressing ideas. Right now, it’s not important WHAT the child writes. And, if s/he doesn’t write back to you at this point, that’s okay.Because …This home activity - with you - is NOT about penmanship, spelling, or neatness! For now, please ignore all minor errors. Help your child focus on getting ideas down on paper.
  • Note-taking - Encourage your child to write one-word descriptions of what s/he sees. This could include a description of a parade, a nature walk, a car trip, or other events. See that s/he starts at the top of the page. And moves in progression from left to right.
  • Complement - Whenever your child attempts any writing on his or her own, it’s important to reinforce any effort by saying something positive. Was it good, interesting, thoughtful, colorful, accurate, or something meaningful? Tell them!
  • Allow Time - Help your child think about a writing project. Your child may dawdle, sharpen a pencil, or get papers ready, etc. But remember the child may be thinking, so be patient. (This is called the pre-planning stage of writing. And all good writers pre-plan.)                                               
  • 1st Grade Writing Includes Reading and Drawing - Do as first-grade teachers do in the classroom. After reading a story, have your child write one word or one sentence about the story. Then, s/he may want to draw a picture - which should represent the story - and color it.                                      
  • Brainstorm - Encourage the child to describe people and events to you. After writing one-word descriptions for a while, ask your child to write two-and-three-word descriptions. To know when s/he is ready to work longer (write more), pay attention to his or her needs.
  • Using a Journal in 1st Grade Writing - You can provide your child with a writing prompt. For example, say, "Write the last word in this sentence." (a sentence you provide) My favorite color is ___. My favorite character in the book is ___. Then, later - whenever s/he is ready - encourage your child to write about personal feelings, events, and ideas.
  • Making Lists - Just as they like to count, most children like to make lists. Encourage this. Making lists is good practice and helps a child to become more organized. They might make lists of their DVDs, baseball cards, dolls, things to do, etc.

Parents, please keep in mind that the physical act of first grade writing requires eye-hand coordination. And this cannot be taught! It’s a developmental skill ...

That means your child must GROW and develop eye muscles and hand muscles that work together to be physically READY to write. Developmentally, MOST first graders are ready.

As your child grows from writing one-word descriptions to two-and-three-word descriptions, be patient and loving. Soon, s/he will be writing a sentence.

After that - next thing you know - your child should be well on his or her way to writing a short paragraph.

And you have helped your child learn something really important ... that writing applies to real life!

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