Teach Middle East Magazine Jan-Feb 2018 Issue 3 Volume 5 - Page 31

Sharing Good Practice THE ESSENTIAL CHECKLIST FOR DEVELOPING EARLY WRITING BY GIANNA ULYATT C hildren mark make from a very early age especially if they have a good variety of writing tools available, such as; brushes, sponges, thick crayons, chalk etc. These ‘scribbles’ are never random because children can usually tell adults what the marks mean, so they are already recording their thoughts. These marks are an intellectual journey for children and show signs of deep thinking. They help them make sense of their world and support their problem solving and new discoveries. Adults must encourage mark making and celebrate children’s efforts at all times. Once children know what letters look like and how to form them, they can be taught how to use their handwriting skills to express their new ideas. They need to be aware of different writing systems, for example, Arabic is written from right to left and English from left to right. Teachers must display and illustrate very common and tricky words on the wall, at child height, using a different colour for the initial letter. This will help to draw the child’s attention to the direction in which the word is to be written. Provide clip boards and encourage those who are reluctant to write, to make check lists, notices and signs for indoor and outdoor areas, for example. Provide whiteboards, blackboards and spare paper, where children can have fun as they experiment writing letters. Encourage children to write notes to each other. Consider ways of writing for different purposes across different subject areas. In the writing area, display simple sentences, at eye height, with the last word missed out. For example ‘I like the .....’ ‘Look at the.....’ ‘Here is the .....’ Provide a range of short vowel words illustrated with a picture. Include words they know such as dog, cat, rat, fox, cup, bag etc. Writing more formally is very difficult for most children, therefore any mark making activity must be meaningful, so children are inspired to participate. Create situations whereby writing is an important element of the activity. For example, writing a card to a toy bear who is in hospital, or writing a note to the canteen supervisor, requesting more fruit. Work with small groups of about six children. Let them each speak out a simple sentence, write it for them and cut out each word separately. Children then have to put their own short sentence together and copy it onto a card or letter. The most important strategy is to make writing fun, laugh a lot and share children’s messages, so that writing is a happy and positive experience. Never forget that learning to write is extremely difficult for most students. Checklist 1. Make sure you have essential resources including the following: range of writing tools, paper, white/blackboards, clipboards, notebooks, buckets of water with brushes, sponges, etc, and magazine pictures to cut out and label. 2. Display simple phonic words and tricky words at child height, making sure children can read them and find them independently. 3. Create a well-resourced, enticing writing area and provide a specific reason for writing. 4. Include simple writing opportunities across the curriculum areas. 5. Make this difficult learning situation, fun for all children. (David, T. et al (2000) Making Sense of Early Literacy: A Practitioner’s Perspective. Stoke on Trent: Trentham Books. Matthews, 2003, p. 23) Gianna has extensive experience as a teacher, principal, and inspector. She is a consultant with expertise in KG and has spoken at conferences in Hong Kong, Spain and the U.K. She sometimes works in the UAE. To connect with her, email giannaulyatt@hotmail.co.uk Class Time | | Jan - Feb 2018 | 29