How a trip to the zoo boosts writing skills
Boost your child's writing skills

Do you ever feel as though teaching your little one the ABC feels, well, a little like hard work? Then take heart from the latest study, which has found a trip to the zoo, or another memorable experience such as talking to an artist, can fast-track your child’s writing skills by a staggering nine months. Try these 10 ways to build your little one’s literacy skills way after the school bell rings.

1. Take it outside

Wherever you are with your child, point out letters to engage their interest – whether it be food packets, magazines or books. When they reach three or four years old, ask her to begin finding and naming some letters – a great place to start is her own name.

2. Practice new words at home

Ask if you can quiz your child on spelling different words. After testing her on spelling, ask her to rewrite the difficult words. Once your child realises that she can progress this way, she’ll feel cleverer and more confident.

3. Encourage them to write by hand

Research has found the physical action of forming letters while writing by hand is important in helping the brain remember the letters that are written.

4. Make sure there are writing materials at home

Try and incorporate lots of different types to keep their interest –that could be a wall or cupboard door painted with chalkboard paint, chalk drawing on slabs in the backyard or big pads of newsprint paper.

5. But also let them play on your iPad or computer

Even though the emphasis on writing at school is by hand, letting your little one mess around with a keyboard will help her learn about letters and word construction and help future learning. iPad games are a great way to engage their interest and make learning feel like a game.

6. Let them see you putting pen (or pencil, Texta or Biro) to paper

Your kid loves to copy you, so seeing you writing – whether it’s a shopping list (or a slushy Post-It note to Daddy) will encourage them to do the same. Although, maybe not the ‘can’t wait to get you home’ variety …

7. Give them memorable experiences

Giving children a memorable experience, such as exploring caves or meeting war veterans, can dramatically boost their writing skills, according to research by the UK’s Education Endowment Foundation. Pupils gained up to nine months of progress, with researchers saying it was rare to see ‘such a large impact’.

8. Get magnetic

For pre-schoolers, place alphabet magnets on your fridge for your child to play with. Ask your littlie to name the letters she plays with and say the words she may be trying to spell.

9. Take it slowly

Being a ‘hovercraft parent’ – in other words, obsessing over your little one’s writing skills – won’t necessarily boost their literacy. A study of pupils in New Zealand found infants given more time to naturally develop their language skills in the early years had a better foundation when at school at the age of seven.

10. Then, let your child fail

In other words, don’t do your child’s homework for them. Experts agree that parents who don’t let their children learn to take responsibility for their own schoolwork are setting their kids up for failure later in life.

This article was written by Joanna Bounds for Kidspot.com.au and has been adapted for Kidpsot.co.nz

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