Seeing their words written down encourages children to begin
Teachers should print clearly when they take dictation from
children. Since young children are just beginning to learn how
written language looks, they cannot distinguish letters written in
various styles. Therefore, the teacher’s printing should be in a
standard form that closely resembles the print children see when
they look at books. Teachers should write in lowercase letters, use
correct capitalization and punctuation, and allow an adequate
space between words so that children can distinguish where one
word stops and another word starts.
What should teachers do if a child avoids writing?
Teachers should continue to provide encouragement and include
opportunities for writing in areas of the classroom where the child
feels comfortable.Sometimes children avoid writing because they
feel that their writing is not good enough. They may have been
teased by an older sibling or criticized by an adult. As children
observe teachers accepting and encouraging writing on all levels,
they may feel confident enough to try writing themselves. When
writing materials are available throughout the classroom, children
may incorporate them into their play and feel less threatened
about perceived writing inadequacies. Teachers often observe that
some children produce far more writing in the dramatic play area
than in the writing center.
How can teachers incorporate writing throughout
Teachers can include writing materials as functional parts of
area designs throughout the classroom. For example, if the dramat-
ic play area is transformed into a dance studio, writing tickets
could be a logical outgrowth of the play in that area. An observa-
tion notebook might be included in the science area, since careful
observation is part of the scientific process. Children may wish to
write words to fit on a song chart in the music area, while in the
art area they may record stories or descriptions for their artwork.
One group of children designed an amusement park in the block
area of their classroom, complete with signs labeling the various
rides. If teachers can envision possible writing activities as they
design areas of the classroom, then children are more likely to
incorporate writing into their play.
84 More Than Letters