Encouraging children to become young authors

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By Beth Pinyerd

The Read Across America Week from Feb. 25 – March 1 is a wonderful initiative created by the National Education Association to encourage our children to enjoy reading and celebrate the coming birthday of beloved children’s author Dr. Seuss.
As a child, I had difficulty in learning how to read. My teachers in Opelika, however, did not give up on me. They would quietly pull me to the side and meet with me one-on-one in helping me pronounce words and to read sentences and to learn to comprehend what I had read.
I loved to draw stories! My wise teachers quickly picked up on this and they allowed me to draw pictures to go along with language experience stories. They also allowed me to write as best I could in expressing my story.
This helped me so much and I can still remember that I did not feel left out of a class project when my teachers would encourage me to use my drawing skills.
One celebration that we had was a Young Author’s Conference at our school! This experience truly improved my ability and confidence as a child learning to read. The whole school staff, principals, teachers, music teachers, art teachers, cafeteria, facilities, etc. came on board and encouraged the students to write and produce books which as classes we shared with our parents in a class program.
As a teacher, I adopted this idea that my own teachers used to encourage me as a child learning to read for my own classrooms during the years! The best time to encourage a child to write and illustrate their own stories is when they are young. It is quite a treat as a teacher to see your students illustrate their stories, put music to their stories and even act out their stories.
When a child is born into the world, they begin to communicate. It may be a happy gurgle, excitement, pointing, or even crying to communicate needs and to interact with his or her world.
Toddlers, twos and threes express themselves through coloring, scribbling, writing, etc.
Writing readiness is encouraged in talking and carrying on conversations with young children, listening to their questions and guiding them to learn new concepts.
When your child reaches 3 to 8 years old, there are so many creative ways to encourage him/her to begin to write.
These are some hints to encourage writing with children.
Having colored markers, chalk, paints, etc. to let children write letters on paper, boards, or even sidewalks is a creative approach for young hands.
If children just scribble and make nonsense words, that’s a fine start!
The secret of encouraging your children is to listen, spend time with them, prompt them with good ideas and praise them. With creativity in “early childhood” writing, we are focusing more on encouraging their thought processes and imaginations rather than the rules of grammar at ages 4 to 6 years old. They will get that later in the language arts development.
One language arts project that seems to delight young children, as well as their teachers and parents, is to have them narrate their stories as their stories are written on the board, flip charts, paper or computers. Seeing the words they are saying is good reading readiness and writing readiness.
You can do family stories at home or when you are going on a long trip. This is a good time to have your child share his or her ideas with you for developing a story. Activities like these will make the time of travel go a lot faster for the family!
An easy way for your child to make books is simply to fold several sheets of paper in half and staple the pages together. You can punch holes on the side, thread yarn through and tie the pages together.
Covers can be made from construction paper, poster board or even old scraps of wallpaper squares, etc. I have ordered inexpensive books from companies that leave the covers blank and have blank paper so the children can write their stories and illustrate their stories on the front and back covers. Computer sites for this also offer creative avenues for children to express themselves.
Children love to make rhymes. This can also lead to a love of poetry they can read, write and illustrate. They also love to listen to their teachers and parents read and express themselves in poems.
In demonstrating their stories, the children can even make their own props to support the stories they have written. During my teaching years, I have become so grateful to the local libraries and community in encouraging parents and teachers to help their children to become young authors. Point out to your children authors who have written books they have enjoyed!
Submit school news or events to Pinyerd by email at donnapinyerd@att.net.

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