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Writing: What It Looks Like in the Beginning (page 2)

Writing: What It Looks Like in the Beginning

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Updated on Sep 23, 2008

Random Letters

In the Fall, many students are not completely comfortable with the sounds of all the letters, but have made the connection that letters make words. They may begin to experiment with what they know and may use random letters to "write." This is an important phase and should be celebrated. It means that your child is beginning to make sense of the sound/symbol relationship. In other words, he's beginning to "get" the fact that letters form the sounds that make up words.

Sight Words

Sight words are a group of commonly used words that are often difficult to decode, or sound out. For that reason, they must be memorized. The list of kindergarten sight words varies from school to school, but common contenders for first on the list will most likely be: I, am, see, like, the.

Interactive Writing

This is a technique many classrooms use to help young writers learn the intricacies of the writing process. Here's how it works: The teacher leads a group of students as they write a story together. In September, she will model how good writers come up with a topic, then ask students to contribute to the story. That's where the interactive part comes in: the teacher will call on students to come up to the paper and write each letter as the class sounds out the word. Teachers also use this technique to teach early sight words.

Beginning Letter Sounds

This is the big jump that most parents are looking forward to with nervous anticipation. Finally, the familiar beginning sounds! In kindergarten, students typically focus on these initial sounds, or beginning sounds, of words first and it typically happens once children have a good understanding of the alphabet and are very comfortable with the sounds that each letter makes. Kindergarten reading and writing go hand and hand. As students gain confidence in "sounding out" these beginning sounds, they'll begin to apply that knowledge to their writing. Kids at this stage can usually identify the beginning sound, but have more difficulty as they move through the word. Don’t fret; delight in your child's efforts to write! It's completely normal for children to be most comfortable with beginning sounds, move on later in the year to ending sounds, and then finally learn to fill in "the middle". Don't be surprised if the middle doesn't come until first grade!

Sounding it Out

Once your child gets the hang of the initial sounds of words they will be ready to stretch out the word to hear even more sounds. As your child's learning to read and write, you'll hear him saying each word slowly, trying to hear the sounds the letters are making in the word. After beginning sounds most children will jump to the ending sound in a word, so their early writing often has a lot of missing letters. The middle sounds, especially vowels, are generally added last, as they are more difficult for children to isolate. So the progression for the word friend might look like this: f only, then fd, to frnd, and lastly adding a vowel for frend.

How to help

Even though it might not seem like "real" writing at first, it's important to recognize how real it is! Encourage your kindergarten kid, as you did with all his other developmental milestones. Clap and cheer each small writing victory. And if your child presents you with a masterpiece that you can’t read, express your excitement and ask him to read it to you. This gets you off the hook without squelching your child's enthusiasm or mistakenly “reading” his words incorrectly.

You can also give your kinder a boost by offering natural opportunities to write. Provide various types of writing supplies such as notebooks, writing pads, dry erase boards, envelopes, pens, and colored pencils. These all make writing more enticing and authentic. For ideas to keep things fun, check out our kindergarten writing activities.

And don't forget to keep in mind what all of this hard work is leading to! By the end of kindergarten your child will be expected to write 2-3 sentences that accompany a drawing. This is an amazing leap from writing just his name in September.

Try to keep your worry in check. Your child’s teacher will be working very hard to make sure all the baby steps happen, so he'll be able to take those giant steps come kindergarten graduation. The initial foundation is crucial, so don’t rush through it!

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