Get Your Pen, Pencil, It’s National Day On Writing

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“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.” Ecclesiastes 3:1.

By Beth Pinyerd

Yesterday, Oct. 20, 2021, we emphasized and celebrated The National Day On Writing.

The National Council of Teachers of English established this day thirteen years ago with the Senate passing a resolution declaring Oct. 20 as The National Day On Writing.

This day points to the significance of embarking on writing instruction at all ages including our very young children. The purpose of this article is to encourage parents and families with young children to realize the best time to teach children to write and illustrate stories is when they are very young. As an early childhood teacher, I love to observe how young preschoolers express themselves. They are so excited and want to explore.   

When a young 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/her world.

This early childhood communication takes place when a young child engages in active play such as crawling, swinging, walking, running, jumping, hand motion songs or finger plays. Developmentally, children begin to gain coordination, strength, observation and sensory skills which are readiness skills for writing and reading. 

Too, young children love to look at pictures in books. Our community libraries have a wonderful assortment of board books, big books and interactive books which are age appropriate for infants, toddlers and two’s. A weekly trip to the library is a good family field trip. Too, just having a few easy picture books at home will do. I fondly remember my husband would draw and glue pictures on simple inexpensive index cards. He drew pictures of the car, home, stores, animals or favorite restaurants to entertain our infant son. He used these simple index flash cards to engage our young son in reading and writing readiness skills in recognizing and saying the pictures.

Other reading and writing readiness activities are playing with manipulatives that are easy to handle such as large Legos, blocks, cars, trucks, big piece puzzles, baby dolls or pretend tea sets. 

Young toddlers, two’s and threes express themselves through coloring, scribbling, writing, painting, gluing, as well as playing and making different creations with Play-Doh. 

Writing readiness is encouraged in talking and carrying on conversations with young children, listening to their questions and guiding them to learn new concepts. Spending undistracted listening time with your young child is the most important action we can do as parents and teachers, as you interact and guide your  preschoolers. This is where you can engage into your child’s interests as they express themselves. 

When your child reaches ages three through eight, there are so many creative ways to encourage him/her to begin to write.

These are some “hints” to encourage writing with younger children.

Having colored markers, chalk or paints to let children write letters on paper, boards or even sidewalks is a creative approach for young hands.

If young children just scribble and make nonsense words that’s fine because it is a beginning. 

 Again, spending time with older preschoolers by prompting them with good ideas is such an encouragement. 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 four, five, six 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 stories as they 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/her ideas with you for developing a story. Activities like these will make the time of travel go a lot faster for the family.

A very 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 very 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. Children 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. Over the years that I have taught, I am so very 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. 

On this day after National Day on Writing, I want to encourage young and old alike to take out your pen or pencil, and simply write what you see — memories, what is on your heart — enjoy the writings of others. Keeping a written journal of family life is a treasure. As we share, we realize that we never stop learning.

Beth Pinyerd
Classroom Observer

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