LittleMan is 5 years old and, like many homeschooled children, he is advanced in the subjects he is most passionate about. If you were to discuss science with him, you might be surprised to find that he grasps concepts that are difficult for the average third grader. However, you only need to look at his reading and writing to realize that he’s a typical 5 year old with both strengths and weaknesses. Writing science reports and also writing his own stories about topics of interest to him have been our best methods for encouraging our reluctant writer.
To write a story with your children you’ll want to have on hand some journal paper (the kind with a drawing space on top and lines on the bottom are a favorite for most budding authors), a pencil, a book for inspiration, and some props to act out the story line. Also handy to have are some stickers to represent the main aspects of the story which maybe long for a small child to write out.
LittleMan had just finished reading “Go, Dog, Go!” to himself and I thought the short simple sentences would be perfect for him to model his Halloween story after. Instead of a dog, he choose a spider as his main character. A ghost, skeleton, or jack-o-lantern would all also be seasonally appropriate.
LittleMan decided that the spider lived in a pumpkin and at the end of the story the spider also threw a party on top of his pumpkin.
Throughout the story telling process LittleMan would use a plastic spider and a mini pumpkin to act out what he was writing. Most of the words he used were sight words off the Dolch Sight Word list so he was comfortable spelling and writing them on his own. For the words he wasn’t sure about, he attempted spelling based on phonetic sounds. For the larger words he used frequently in his story (like “spider” and “pumpkin”) he used stickers to represent the word.
Here is an example of a page from his story.
Note the poor spacing, the misspelled word, the mixture of capital and lower case letters, the trouble forming curvy letters like “s.”
This is what a beginner writer’s story is supposed to look like. It takes time and practice to master these skills.
Please be patient with your children. Try to point out what you like about their story. Rather than nit-picking at their mistakes, model for them the proper way to write and encourage them to practice so they can improve.
And when their writing does improve, do not be surprised if they have a bad day from time to time. This is by far not LittleMan’s best writing but I’m showing it to you anyway because I want you all to see that it is normal. Given time and practice, improvements will come. Given more time and more practice, improvements will become consistent.
So be patient and remember to make this a positive experience.
We aren’t just teaching them to read and write, we are teaching them to love the written word.