Thursday, August 13, 2009

Picnic Table Talk: Writing

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I come from a family that enjoys writing. Our love of writing comes primarily from my father, who writes poetry and the occasional story in his (very sparse given his ten children and demanding job) free time. My mother also deserves credit, however – she is the letter writer in the family. She doesn’t write frequently (she does, after all, have the demanding job of mother of ten children – two still at home), but the letters she writes are always long and detailed.

I type more than I write by hand. I enjoy writing with a fountain pen, thanks to intensive handwriting education in French public schools. I type very quickly, but sometimes it’s good to have the extra reflecting time given by my penmanship.

I have done very little to teach my children penmanship. Johnny is too young (he does draw circles, which is pretty good for a 20-month-old). Emma has printing sheets, but she’s a perfectionist who only draws the letters she is certain she can get perfectly. I’m fine with that for now. She writes a very nice T, E, L, I, and U, as well as the occasional M and A when she is feeling adventurous.

I hope my children grow to love writing also, and I think there is a lot that can be done in early childhood to foster a love of writing. A few things I remember and try to practice as a parent from my own childhood:

  • Read aloud, a lot.
  • Write yourself, and let children hear what you have written.
  • Write down stories your children tell you before they are old enough to write them themselves.
  • Keep a journal and encourage your children to do so also. I’ve kept a journal for most of my life (every single day since September 27, 2003), and all three of my children have journals. Emma and Johnny scribble and draw in theirs as I did in my first journal as a child, and I’m sure Lily will be doing the same soon. I write occasional journal entries in my children’s journals to get them started with a record of their lives as well.
  • Sing songs – often overlooked, this is a great way for children to learn about rhyming and the rhythm of language.
  • Write simple stories and have your children use them to practice their penmanship once they are reading. My children are too young for this currently, but I remember my mother doing it with me, and it made penmanship practice much more interesting.

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