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Model what you write. Write a letter or a note or a grocery list. Write about your busy day or any topic that comes to mind. Think aloud explaining what you're doing and deciding as your child watches.

Parents: Children take cues from you

You are your child's first and best teacher. Nothing can be more important than one-on-one time with your child. The most significant rule to remember is that language work should be natural and fun.

Of course, reading together is the best strategy for improving reading, writing, spelling, and grammar. However, many of you are already reading and would like other ideas. This page should get you started.

Writing Notebooks

Buy an attractive journal or use the writer's notebook your child already has at school. Help your child make it personal. Glue pictures the child and you draw or pictures cut from magazines all over the back and front covers. Cut out your child's name in letters. Cover the notebook in clear tape to keep the decorations in place. Make one for you, too!

Write in your notebooks for 10 minutes as many days of the week that you can. In just a few minutes of writing time, your child will produce stories, poems, plays, diaries, beginnings or endings, thoughts, character or setting descriptions, lists, story ideas, freewrites, summaries, drawings, letters, recipes. Your child can move back and forth between pages or write one idea at a time! Your young writer can add on to yesterday's writing today. It doesn't have to be done all at once. And remember! Pack the writer's notebook when you take a trip, visit someone, or ride in the car.

Share your writing when you get a quiet moment. Your child can even read his or her writing as you cook as long as you can remember some lines to tell your child that resonated with you. Pick words or phrases that are especially meaningful and tell your child what they are and why they touched you. The praises you share will let your writer know that those phrases worked. Do not correct spelling and grammar at this time. (See Spelling Journal below.)

Model what you write

Write a letter or a note or a grocery list. Write about your busy day or any topic that comes to mind. Spread your writing throughout the days you spend with your child. Write as your child watches. Talk about what you chose to write about and why. Talk about how you chose your first line. Explain why you're starting each sentence with a capital letter and ending each with punctuation. Talk through your steps of writing - even when you have to stop and think. Tell your writer what you’re thinking about so she knows that writing doesn’t come out perfectly for anyone. Let your child predict what word you might say next or how to spell a word. If your child is able, write together. Hand off the pencil so that you write a part or sentence and then he/she writes. Send a message in your child's lunchbox. Ask your child to respond even if your child just circles yes or no.

Keep a Spelling Folder (Word-Perfect Journal)

Buy a folder for your child and fill the clips with notebook paper - about 40 sheets. Ask your child to write 1-2 complete sentences per day WITH YOU on the pages in this separate folder. This journal is different than his/her writer's notebook. In this journal every word will be spelled correctly with your help.

Let's say your child wants to write a sentence like, "Today we went to visit aunt Louisa and she had cookies for us." The child would tell you the sentence aloud. You say something like, "How will you begin?" Your child says, "/t/." Then you would say, "Yes. Write a /t/ at the beginning of the line. What else do you have to remember when you start a sentence?" If your child says capital letter, praise her. If not just tell her that she needs to remember to start all sentences with a capital letter and keep going.

Work through each word of the sentence in this way. "What sound do you hear next?" If your child tells you /o/, say "Great! Wow! Write an /o/." But, if your child says /u/, say, "You're right! You hear a /u/ sound but in this word, the oo sound is spelled with an /o/. Go ahead and write an /o/." However, if your child says /d/, then say, "Yes! There is a /d/ in today but before you write /d/, we have to write an /o/ for the oo sound. Do you hear the oo sound in "to---day?"

Be patient

You can see this will take a bit of time, but you are teaching spelling IN WRITING:-) You are teaching spelling of words your child knows. Your child is doing the writing without stress because you are there to support her. Children who are learning to write can either concentrate on word-perfect writing or what they're saying. That's why we separate the two even into adulthood. Writing ideas comes before editing.

Finally, after the child finishes writing, pick 1-2 words to write on an ABC list of words the child learns to spell. Dedicate one page in the writing folder for each letter of the alphabet so your child can use the folder like a dictionary.

Help your child pick words that she will use frequently. Say something like, "What word do you want to learn to spell from memory? I noticed you weren't able to spell /today/ automatically. Is that a word you want to learn or do you have another?" After your child copies it correctly on the correct ABC page, tell your writer that the next time he wants to use the word /today/, he should check the list - either when writing in the word-perfect journal or in his writer's notebook.

Since there are just a couple words to learn, now the task is manageable. Over time, the child will store the word in long-term memory and by fourth grade will be able to spell 85% of the words correctly in first drafts.

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Take the time

Share your writing when you get a quiet moment. Your child can even read his or her writing as you cook as long as you can remember some lines to tell your child that resonated with you.

FOR PARENTS

Copyright 2016 by Karen Haag

A resource for people passionate about helping students write well, compiled by Karen Haag

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