We often forget that reading and writing go hand in hand. If we want to be a betterreader, we need to write more. Conversely, if we want to be a better writer, we need toread more. Parents can help children reach higher levels of literacy not only by readingwith them, but by writing with them, too. By weaving writing into the fabric of yourfamily’s daily life, you are nurturing your child’s learning and can create traditions that willlast for generations to come.

Creating a Write Start Environment

If we want to encourage a love of anything, we must immerse ourselves in it. Therefore,in order to encourage a love for writing in our families, we must immerse our families inwriting. The easiest way to do this is to provide many opportunities to write during theday and to have writing materials easily accessible. Make your house writer friendly. Setup a writing center for your children – a space to free write. Provide plenty of writingtools: pencils, pens, crayons, colored pencils and markers. Provide different types ofpaper: lined paper, plain paper, stationery, envelopes, notepads, etc. Don’t forgetconstruction paper, glue, and staplers for children to make their own books. Make thespace fun and inviting.

Make Writing Relevant

Writing is learned best when it occurs in authentic situations. So, tie writing into whatyou are doing as a family. This may be as simple as having your child write out thegrocery list for the week, write a recipe for his/her favorite meal, or to write thank younotes for gifts received. Special ways to make writing authentic: create Family VacationJournals. Take pictures to paste in the journal and write about the event. Or createFamily Activity Journals. You or your child can take pictures of day to day familyactivities. Place the photograph in the journal and then write about it. Aim to take onepicture a day. One very special and easy way to encourage writing is by encouragingyour child to begin a correspondence with a family member or other type of pen pal. Agrandparent is a perfect candidate, especially if they don’t live nearby. Writing letters oreven emails is a great way for your children to share their daily/weekly/monthly activitieswith their grandparent. And each will enjoy receiving mail from the other.

Make Writing a Family Tradition

Make writing a part of your family’s activities and it will quickly become tradition. Createa weekly family writing night. During these evenings, take turns adding to a FamilyHistory Journal. Have each family member write about something special that happenedduring the week. If you have a child who is not yet writing, have them draw a picture. Create Father/Son or Mother/Daughter dialogue journals. Use these journals to “talk”with your pre-teen or teenager about their day. They may feel more comfortable sharingevents in their lives if they don’t actually have to verbalize them. Use the dialogue journalto ask questions and seek answers, to provide encouragement, or to apologize.

However you choose to incorporate writing into the fold of your family’s fabric, I hope you create family traditions that live for generations to come. What sweet memories they willhold as your children grow up, move on, and have children of their own.

Dawn Little (aka Links to Literacy) also blogs at www.teachingwithpictureboo ks.wordpress.com where she provides educators with picture book lessons based on comprehension strategies and the Six Traits of Writing. In addition, she blogs at www.literacytoolbox.wordpr ess.com where she provides educators and parents with tips and tools to enhance the literacy lives of children. She is the founder and owner of Links to Literacy, a company dedicated to providing interactive literacy experiences for children and families. Find out more at www.linkstoliteracy.com

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Thanks for reading,

Sarah Butland