It's summer break but that doesn't mean your kids can just take the summer off from reading and writing. For my family, reading has always been fun, but getting an active 5 and 7 year old to practice writing is another matter. The secret is to make writing fun and make it relevant.
- Make a list. Model the usefulness of list making while you're going about your busy day. When you're packing up for a picnic or a trip to grandma's let your child make a list of the things you'll need. When your kids start naming what they want for their next birthday (even if it's 8 months away) ask for a list so you don't forget! When they're lining up their stuffed animals for a train ride, suggest they make a list of everyone who's riding and where they're going.
- Write a note. Sometimes dad has to be at work at 6am so he leaves us a note on the kitchen table. The kids like writing him back just to say hi and ask him about his day.
- Label pictures. When pretend play suddenly means your kids need a police badge or a drawing of a one-eyed monster, suggest they add words and numbers to go along with what they're drawing.
- Be silly. Play a game where everyone uses sticky notes to label stuff around the house. (Read Dangerous! by Tim Warnes for inspiration on this one.) Make signs for each room with goofy descriptions of what, or who is inside.
- Use everything. You don't need paper or a pencil to write! Try writing names in the sand at the beach or with an ice cube on a hot sidewalk. While you're waiting in line somewhere play 'guess this letter' and ask your child to trace a letter on your back while you guess what letter he wrote.
There are so many ways to make writing fun! And remember, not everything has to be spelled correctly. Giving young learners the encouragement and tools, like letter sounds, to figure out spellings on their own has a lot of value. This year my first grader wrote "I hav grat idus" in his journal. He's learning how to spell better every day and I can't wait to see those 'great ideas' come to life!