Tips for helping children with writing and spelling
- Write messages to your child and encourage him or her to write replies. Talk about words, letters and spaces as you write.
- Use a family message board and encourage children to write their own messages.
- Provide your child with a small stock of writing materials – scrap paper, pencils, pens, envelopes, forms.
- Talk about the purpose for which you use writing – telephone messages, shopping lists etc.
- Have a written conversation with your child.
Questions about early writing
- Does it matter that my child does not write from left to right?
Very young children will experiment with writing which will not go from left to right. When you are sharing a book, occasionally run your finger from left to right along the line of print to model which way we write text in English.
- Should my child only write in pencil? Should my child only write on lined paper?
In school, children will be taught how to hold a pencil correctly and how to orientate the letters relative to the line, but at home it’s fine for children to experiment and enjoy writing with chalks on boards and pens on paper and fingers on screens!
- Capital letters or lower case letters? Which should I use?
Always demonstrate writing in lower case (except for capital letters for names or the start of sentences).
- How much does spelling matter?
Spelling does matter but it is a developmental skill and children will acquire correct spelling over a number of years so it is important that it doesn’t become a barrier to their enthusiasm for writing. You should appreciate all their efforts and talk about what they written (rather than point out spelling errors).
- Write a word like ‘went’ or ‘take’ or ‘kick’.
- Write some consonants like: b, d, l, m, n, p.
- How many words can your child write that rhyme with ‘went’ (bent, dent, lent, rent, sent, tent).
- They score a point for every word they can write.
- Write a four letter word like ‘went’.
- Challenge your child to write a word below it that just changes one letter (e.g. sent or west or want).
- Take it in turns. Changing one letter at a time. (e.g. send or best or wand) how many words can you make?
- Remember they must all be real words and no repetitions!
- Practise spellings by playing noughts and crosses
- Write a word of the week on a piece of paper e.g. ‘important’. Everybody in the family is on the look-out for words that either start with ‘im’ or end ‘ant’ or have three syllables. Stick the paper on the fridge door. Everyone writes in a different colour pen so you know who added what. Who will find the most words?
- Use technology: Phoneme pronunciation guide: www.global.oup.com; Collins Book Cat series of book-apps; Mr Thornes Phonics Safari; Pocket Phonics; Storybook Maker; Nosy Crow