Writing seems like the hardest thing, doesn’t it? It’s the last big leap into full-blown literacy, and as parents we want nothing more than to watch our young ones blossom into happy, confident writers.
Unfortunately, most of the advice and activity suggestions that you find out there encourages you to stick workbook pages in front of your child, have them trace letters until their hands go numb, or force writing activities on your older writers that they really, REALLY don’t feel confident doing. And sadly… the statistics about writing are clear that this approach isn’t only developmentally unsound, but is causing a significant problem with how our children feel about writing and how often they choose to use this skill. An astounding number of children, teens, and even adults have decided that they don’t enjoy writing, aren’t good at writing, or actively choose to avoid it at all costs.
I have parents asking me all the time how they can create both a child-led learning environment but also still teach their children to read and write! Believe it or not, a child-led experience leads very nicely into the development of reading skills. Creating an environment where reading is a focus, a joy, and a part of everyday life is one of the most important ways to help your child boost their early literacy skills.
I want to answer another of the questions I hear over and over again (because I bet this is one that you’ve had streaming through your head a time or two). And that is “But what about the ABCs?” Or, in other words, if I don’t TEACH them, how will my child ever learn to read or write?! This is something that starts to freak parents out BIG TIME the second they get excited about child-led learning. That fear kicks in and a lot of times, they run away from the unstructured, free and flexible learning experiences for the rigid, “sit at a desk and learn stuff on paper” way of learning that they’re used to. But you don’t have to do that.
Take a look inside your personal memory bank for a minute, and find those memories of learning to read, being read to, and other literacy-related memories. Can you recall fond memories of learning to read by your parents reading consistently to you (or are you lacking that memory and longing for it)? Do you have memories of seeing your family members read to themselves? Did your dad read the daily paper? Did your mom take time to read books? Did your grandparents read for pleasure? Intentional or not, this act of modeling an appreciation for and love of reading goes a long way in creating a literacy rich environment for your children!