At first, working with your child on writing seems like it should mainly be about letters: letter sounds, letter formation, etc., but you don’t want to only focus on the technical writing skills. From the beginning, writing should be a fun and expressive activity, and the technical skills will develop alongside the more enjoyable elements of writing. I had spoken previously about developing stories and adding additional details, and the following activities are a great way for your child to get a sense of what it feels like to write something with more depth and substance.
I know you may be thinking, “My child is just writing initial letters, and sometimes dog and cat, how can they write a whole story?” Never underestimate what your child can do! Your child probably tells you stories on a daily basis, or maybe a minute-by-minute basis. Select one of these stories that your child seems particularly engaged in, and tell them that you will write a book together about that story.
The first step is to story-map: map out a beginning, middle, and end. Every story needs to have those three elements. If your child’s story is about a dog they saw, the beginning can include the setting (Where was your child? Where was the dog? Were they outside? What was the weather like?); the middle would be the “action” (What did the dog do? What did the dog look like? What did your child do?); the end would be the resolution (Did the dog run away? How did your child feel at the end of this event?). There are so many opportunities for your child to expand on a small moment, if you think about all the details you can add: setting, emotions, sights, sounds, smells, etc.
Once you have mapped out the beginning, middle, and end (you can just sit with your child and write down a few words as they speak, to model how to map out the story), your child can start writing the book. Take a few pieces of paper, fold them in half, and then staple them in the middle. This way your child feels like they have something more substantial and the writing has more purpose. If your child tends to get frustrated when they make errors, don’t staple the pages yet, so that you can remove and add new pages if they want you to. Have them write out their story across the pages, as you help them sound out words. Also have them draw pictures to supplement the writing and give them another opportunity to express themselves.