What is one of the first toys we give our children when they can sit and crawl?
Rubber blocks, wooden blocks, cardboard blocks.
All kinds of blocks.
What do we give kids as they get a bit older into toddler-hood?
Then as they approach their adolescence…what do we give them?
Yes…from the time our children are teeny-tiny, we are giving them building blocks. They build from directions that allow them to create elaborate masterpieces and then they free-build forms that are uniquely their own.
This isn’t really any different than teaching writing. We need to give our children the building blocks appropriate to their age if we ever want them to free-build or free-write masterpieces of their own creation.
It is essential to begin when our children are toddlers by looking at letters and following along words with our fingers in picture books. Sing rhyming songs and encourage rhyming games in the car, in the store – everywhere! All of these are basic blocks of learning language and reading which leads directly to writing.
Then as toddlers become bigger kids, give them the tools to write (even when it’s not pretty!) Give them lots of paper and pencils of all colors. Let it be fun and let it be creative. Talk about nouns and verbs: the building blocks of sentences.
As children outgrow each set of building blocks, replace them with the next set…the next level of writing. As they grow, provide more direction (like the Lego set that points out where each piece belongs). Show them the formulas for strong introductory paragraphs and the way to assemble an essay.
If we start at the very beginning when our children are very young, writing won’t be a scary prospect. It won’t be a daunting task to teach or to learn. It will be a natural progression for everyone involved.
And remember that learning never ends. There will always be more to learn about writing and language – even as adults!
Have you ever seen an adult hunched over a table under a bright light, poring over 1000 jigsaw pieces and placing them one by one? It’s just another form of building and assembling.
After all, our brains are wired to build one thing upon the next…so teach writing the natural and logical way by appealing to your student’s desire for formulas and building blocks – you’ll be pleased with the results!