Between the ages of three and five, children begin to understand that all communication does not have to be verbal, but can also be written. It is important to provide opportunities for preschoolers to practice these new skills in a supportive environment. You can try creating a writing center, complete with journals, tablets, dry-erase boards and an array of writing tools. Or, you can incorporate a writing component into any daily activity. Many teachers choose to do both.
A young child’s writing may not look anything like adult writing, but rest assured that by providing children with plenty of opportunities to practice, you are encouraging them to understand the nuances of print and helping them to become effective communicators. Children’s writing will progress from the age of three from random scribbling to marks that appear to have a print-like quality. Lines and circles combine by the age of four to resemble letter-like symbols and finally, around the age of five, letters begin to take shape.
Pay close attention to the development of your student’s writing. Doing so and understanding when they are ready for the next challenge will help you provide an appropriate curriculum for your classroom.
Before young preschoolers are ready to grab a crayon and pen the next Great American Novel, there are a few pre-writing skills that will need to be honed. Some of these include perfecting a pincer grasp and understanding that putting a writing instrument to paper will create marks. Read through some of these ideas for introducing pre-writing skills to older toddlers and young preschoolers.
Classroom Writing Center
One way to provide an environment that encourages writing exploration is to dedicate a classroom center to writing. Include several different writing tools, lots of different kinds of paper, dry erase boards and a few doodle boards. Make the environment comfortable and inviting with soft chairs and a table at a comfortable writing height for children. Check out some of these ideas for providing a writing center that will quickly become your student’s favorite place!
Including Writing Across the Curriculum
Now that you have provided a comfortable and inviting writing center in your classroom, it is important to include activities that will help children practice their writing skills outside of the writing center. It is important, yet relatively easy, to include a writing component in almost all preschool activities. Browse through some of these ideas for encouraging preschool writing across the curriculum.
Beyond Writing: Print Rich Environments
Even more than creating a dedicated writing center, providing a print rich environment for preschoolers will help them on their journey to become proficient writers. Children who are exposed to many different kinds of writing and print will often read and write sooner than their peers who have not been exposed to a print-rich environment. Browse through these fresh ideas on providing the very best environment for encouraging writing and reading in your preschool classroom.
If you are teaching in a mixed age classroom, you will need to be sure to provide opportunities for pre-writing activities for very young preschoolers as well as more challenging writing work for older students. Keep track of your preschooler’s progress with writing by saving writing samples each month and comparing them. If students are showing adequate progress, keep up the good work! If some students are lagging, be sure that you are providing enough opportunities for your preschoolers to practice writing as well as providing an environment rich in print.
Keep in mind that all children develop on their own schedule, and pushing a child to begin writing before he is ready may result in frustration and reluctance to try again. Allowing each child to discover the joys of writing and print through practice and play will encourage a lifelong love of literacy and the written word.