Early Education     K-12    

Best tips for writing at home with your child

“When children are encouraged to write at home, they are taking learning into their own hands and making their own connections to language and the world around them,” says Cindy Volk, a first grade teacher at Trevor Road Primary School in Pleasant Valley, N.Y. “Some children may hesitate to write as freely in the classroom as they would at home,” says Volk. “And writing at home will help to reinforce skills learned in school, helping children to become better writers.”

When to start journaling?

According to Volk, journaling can start at the kindergarten level. While children will not be completely independent with their writing at this age, journaling within their current skill set, which may include drawing, is a great starting point. By first grade, children should be able to write more detailed journal entries on their own. However, they may need help from a parent coming up with topics. 

Is spelling critical?

While spelling is important, it is also important for children to develop life-long writing skills and to be able to express themselves. In Volk’s classroom, the children write their “pieces” with their “transitional” spelling. When they finish, they reread their writing and fix the words that they have learned. Parents could continue this work at home, allowing children to first express themselves and, if the child asks, go back to “check” for spelling.

Other writing suggestions

Volk encourages parents to have their children write letters to grandparents, friends, etc…

“Through real world writing, children can see the power of words,” says Volk. “One of our kindergarten classes felt it was unfair that they could not get a library card from our local library until they were in first grade. They wrote class letters to the library which then changed its policy.”

Janine Boldrin is a freelance writer. She lives in West Point, NY with her husband and three children.