My eldest is a bit of a perfectionist – he dislikes it when he makes errors, and, despite my best efforts to assure him that making errors is all part of the learning process it can have the effect of making him quite reluctant to practise certain things.
One thing we really battled with a few months back was his writing. Whilst I try not to ‘force’ him to write, there is a need to learn and develop the skill and I have looked for ways to introduce more writing into our everyday ‘work’ to offer plenty of opportunities without it seeming like he is writing.
Here are a couple of things that really worked for us.
Finger tracing in salt or sand is a great way to get children to practice making the shapes of letters and correcting if they’re starting it from the wrong point. I realised through doing this that he was struggling with ‘y’ so we did some fun practice with that. You can also get them to use different implements to mark out the letters, cotton buds, pencils, even toys!
We have also filled up zilploc style bags with paint and, making sure they’re sealed, used our fingers to write out letters – this works well for me with the three children as Harry (at just under two years old) loves playing with the paint in the bag, Emma can work on her letters and sounds recognition and Daniel can get to grips with practising letter formation.
Writing with a sealed ziploc bag filled with paint
Use small writing spaces – I think Daniel was feeling a bit overwhelmed when faced with a whole blank page to write on – when we did our London work a few months back I happened across the London postcards and he loved doing these. He coloured in the picture first, reminiscing about our trip to London and we talked about what me might say if he wrote a postcard – by the time he’d finished colouring in he was raring to go with the writing. The smaller space definitely made it less daunting for him and we have re-visited the postcards a few times now – often as a way to capture memories from a day or to send to characters we use as part of our learning.
Colouring in and then writing a postcard
Proud of the finished postcard!
There’s a fantastic range of postcards on the Activity Village site so it’s really easy to find one that fits into your current learning themes – we have been busy writing football based ones to match up with the World Cup so have been using this Russian map one.
I also found that using a pencil was really good for Daniel – knowing that he could erase any errors was a revelation for him! I now always make sure I have pencils and erasers stocked up for him!
Making writing fun is key – running with his interests has been really good for us and when we have been drawing or reading I try to link crafts and arty activities towards it. Last year both Daniel and Em really got into drawing comic stories. They started drawing out the pictures, and I would annotate them however in recent weeks I’ve noticed that Daniel will happily add in the text himself – again the small spaces makes it less overwhelming for him plus he is writing the story which is exciting and fun for him.
When we head away in a few weeks time we are going to be taking a stock of these journal pages to get the children to record their memories of our trip either in picture form or writing.
Finally, I’ve found having a few handwriting sheets around for both the older children to practice on is handy. They both have a basket each where ongoing work and projects are placed and I’ve started leaving a small folder with printed sheets in for them to work on. They are both currently working through some of the summer themed sheets. Having these to hand means they can pick them up and do them independently which builds their confidence enormously.
Finger tracing the first row of the handwriting worksheet
Now tracing the letters
The sun's out for this handwriting worksheet!
Writing is an important skill to learn and these simple activities have really helped my eldest develop his writing skills.
This is a guest post from Sarah B. Sarah is a home educating mum to three children aged 5, 4 and almost 2. She blogs at Let Them Be Small where she shares details of their home education journey as well as different activities that they do, the resources they use, the books they read and anything else that forms part of their home education journey.
You can find a list of all our guest posts, here.