While many parents build a special time for reading into family life, we don't all do the same for writing. I believe we should. I call these times "read o'clock" and "write o'clock". It doesn't matter when we fit reading and writing into each day, so long as we do.
We need to show our kids that writing is important and is an activity we value. That means making sure they see us writing, whether that be a grocery list, a note for a friend, or a recipe we're creating.
Before children start school, writing is mostly scribble with some letters thrown in, and maybe a picture for good measure. This is an important stage for kids. They gradually become aware of words and letters in their environment, and they often want to copy what we write. Having kids write their own grocery list when we shop together is a great way to include writing AND make a shopping trip fun. Food clip art can help them make a list, and they get to cross off items as we shop.
As children master the early stages of writing, we keep "write o'clock" going. Often they'll have their own ideas for writing activities, but if not, here are some suggestions:
• Create a comic strip, perhaps using software or an online editor like Scholastic's Charlotte's Web.
• Write a letter to someone real or imaginary, persuading him or her about something.
• Find an image and write a caption to accompany it (find out more in my article Writing Fun for Kids - Create a Caption).
• Create a character with words or a picture – or even act it out -- and use this character in a story.
• Write instructions to explain something you know how to do, perhaps how to build something in LEGO, or make a kite.
Apart from the importance of regular daily writing, for however short a time, and having our kids catch us writing, here are some more tips: If our kids already have writing homework, that counts! I want children to enjoy writing as much as I do, and turning it into a chore won't help. As much as possible, we should keep write o'clock activities short and fun. Having special writing stuff like cute paper and pens or being able to borrow Dad's iPad helps make daily writing time something children look forward to.
What's your favorite write o'clock activity? Share it on the Scholastic Parents Facebook page.