Reading and Writing Life Skills

Why am I learning this?   How many times do children entertain this question?  It’s a demand to know if the effort is worth it.   We can all recall our children standing with their arms crossed, seeking to understand why they needed to learn countless skills, from tying shoes to emptying the dishwasher, writing in cursive, and keyboarding hand placement.   Every moment, sometimes without our even thinking about it, we now appreciate the intuitive ease of practiced skills which make daily life easier.  Three resources are needed as basic building blocks to succeed in learning these—a book, a piece of paper, and a pencil.  

Reading is Caught, Not Taught 

All educational development skills begin with reading, whether intended for directions, information, or pleasure.  The love of reading often develops because of a connection to a beloved book, or fictitious friends who influenced our love of adventure through writing about space or distant lands, such as the Hundred Acre Wood, Narnia, or Oz.  

Try the following suggestions: 

  • Location is Important:  Stretching from the living room couch to a fort constructed of a bed sheet and pillows, a secret or comfortable area may set the tone for togetherness or a child’s quiet time. 
  • Weekly Library Visits:  Your local library can supply every family member with age-appropriate books. Introduce yourself; the librarians will be glad to see your faces enter the doors and may glean your family’s interests to recommend a list of beloved and kid-approved titles.
  • Teach Games Through Books:  Preschool children will need to identify letters and sight words in the text.  For example, ask your child, “Do you see the letter ‘A’ in the first word?  Okay, point to it!”  Your child will soon not go anywhere without a book in hand!
  • Audiobooks:  Whether borrowed from a library, rented from a store, or downloaded online, a narrated book can increase auditory learning, vocabulary, and literary skills.  Children can take advantage of listening to stories up to two years above their reading level, bearing in mind that the book’s themes should be age-appropriate.  
  • Non-Fiction:  Children can learn about their interests, such as Ancient Egypt or the Civil War, Leonardo da Vinci or Cleopatra, through books.  After learning basic factual information, children may discover historical or realistic fiction to further their knowledge.
  • Never Stop Reading Together:  By the fourth and fifth grades, boys and girls will want to explore more challenging themes and worlds. From The Gryphon Chronicles, the Percy Jackson series, to The Five Kingdoms series, children can delve into great stories by sharing reading responsibilities with their parents, reading independently, or listening to audiobooks. Search for themes that can help open the conversation, such as the value of friendships, feelings of infatuation, or handling bullies. An influential series will transform your child’s understanding of truth, friendship, and acceptance of self.

The Art of Writing 

The blank canvas of a sheet of paper is an intimidating prospect for adults and children.  The mental anguish behind “How do I begin?” can end with finding the right strategy.  For example, some prefer using story maps or drawing pictures. While identifying effective strategic aids in learning, parents can boost the enjoyment of writing by applying ink to paper.  

  • Start with the rule of four lines.  Begin at the ground, rising to the dotted line, known as the grass, and continue towards the sky.  All capital letters and only seven lowercase letters reach the top blue line.  Some letters go underground, such as the sweeping tails of “g,” “j,” “p,” “q,” and “y.”
  • Invest in a cursive handwriting book. 
  • Begin coloring with wavy lines and encourage staying within the lines. Bring out the crayons and a coloring book!  
  • Tracing, whether on paper or in sugar, is a tactile activity.  Start with the letters in your child’s name and always request a signature at the end of every practice session.

As children enter elementary school, building confidence requires activities to promote success.  Try a few of the following suggestions. 

  • Investing time in writing original rhyming patterns
  • Handwriting or typing favorite recipes
  • Beginning a daily journal or scrapbook
  • Taking photographs and writing about the moment or person
  • Sending e-mails to family members in place of texting
  • Writing or co-writing an original story
  • Reading aloud the first chapter from a book, and then writing what comes next.
  • Taking notes from a Podcast or television program to increase concentration and listening skills.
  • Learning two new words each day and writing them down.

The possibility of delving into a forgotten subject with a child has no bounds!  Enjoy the moment, learning about letters, penmanship, words, and original thoughts!

 

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