Writing Has A Purpose

As I mentioned previously, it’s important for your child to understand that writing has a purpose, so I wanted to list some activities you can do at home that demonstrate the purposeful nature of writing. One thing your child has probably seen you do is write lists: shopping lists, to-do lists, etc. The next time you are writing a list, have your child watch you, and sound out the words as you write them, stretching them out and demonstrating how you know to write a word based on the sounds you hear. So if you are writing a grocery list and are making tacos, write the word taco very slowly, sounding out the t, and then writing the letter t, sounding out the a, and then writing the letter a, etc. You can also ask your child if they know which letter to put for a certain sound: “What’s the first sound that you hear in taco? What letter makes that sound?”

Getting your child involved in your own purposeful writing will encourage your child to take the initiative to want to go out and do their own writing. You can encourage this by asking your child to help you write the grocery list (even if they can only write the first letter in each word at first, you can fill in the word for yourself later). You can suggest to your child that they write a list of what they want to bring on your next outing, or list of their favorite toys, or list of their friends’ names, etc. This allows your child to write down a lot of words without feeling stifled by trying to fit into the context of a story.

Another way to provide an opportunity for purposeful writing is to suggest that your child write a letter to someone. Maybe they want to share some information with a grandparent, write a letter to Santa, or write a note to their cat telling it how cute it is. If your child has a reason to feel motivated to write, they will be more likely to do so. Remind your child that drawing is just as valuable as writing words, so they can do both and express their ideas more fully.

You can also have your child think of something they like to do and write down instructions on how to complete that task. It’s fun to provide a few pages of paper folded over and stapled together like a book for your child to feel like what they write has more value. Have your child write the activity they like to do on the cover, and then each page of the book demonstrates one step in how to complete that task, complemented by a drawing. I created these books with my kindergarten students and was amazed by the detail they put into breaking up a task into innumerable steps.

One more activity you can do at home is a scavenger hunt. Have your child hide an object somewhere, and then they will write a clue on a piece of paper describing where to find that object. Then they go to another location and write a clue on another piece of paper that leads to the first clue. This way, your child can create a scavenger hunt and have an adult work backward from clue to clue until they find the hidden object. For example, if your child hides a rock under their bed, they can write a clue and put it in the bathroom, and that clue would say, “Look under the bed.” Then your child could write another clue and put it in the kitchen, saying, “Go to the room with the tub.” The clue does not need to be cryptic, because that will be too confusing for the child. It would just direct the person taking the scavenger hunt from room to room until they get to the hidden treasure. Your child will be excited to write, and you can also have your child help read the clues back to you, reinforcing that they should be able to read the words that they themselves write.

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