If you have a first grader or your child is about to hit first grade, here are some really important benchmarks that your child SHOULD meet before the end or first grade and how I would get them there.
- Forms complete sentences
- Capitalizes proper nouns and the pronoun I
- Starts sentences with a capital letter
- Ends sentences with a period
- Uses correct spacing between words
- Keeps a journal using words, Sentences, Drawings, and inventive spelling.
- Chooses a topic.
- Prints correctly and neatly so others can read.
- Uses sight words in sentences and talks about writing.
- Writes about a personal experience using proper sentences.
My favorite way to get kids to these benchmarks is journal writing. I give my kids as many notebooks as their little hearts desire. I start my encouraging them to draw pictures around age three. I have them pretend write what the picture is about. Sometimes I have them tell me a story while I write down their exact words.
By age four, they can write/spell some words themselves. I always encourage them to sound out a word and we try to spell it together before I just tell them how it’s spelled, unless it’s one of those crazy words in the English language that does not sound like it’s spelled!
By five, they should be doing a lot of phonetic spelling and you will find they are already trying sentences. Talk to them about how sentences start with a capital letter and end with punctuation.
In the summers, I give my kids writing assignments. The younger ones just write for about fifteen minutes each day. We ALWAYS write by hand. The computer comes after good handwriting is established.
By first grade, you can start to add the computer in. Please don’t allow them to go to all computer though. It is really important that kids keep working on penmanship. It’s great for fine motor skills and for their brain! Also, a friend of mine told me that her high school son just took the SAT’s this winter and was told to write IN CURSIVE at the end of the test because it proves they took the test. Printing was not allowed. So if your child’s school is no longer teaching cursive writing, I would seriously talk to the about it and/or teach it yourself. You’re children will have to know how to write their names in cursive to sign legal documents later in life.
Encourage your child to tell you stories when they’re little and you make up stories to tell them. It’s really fun if you guys make up stories together. My four year old and I decided that we wanted to know what Puff the Magic Dragon did with those crazy pirates mentioned in passing in the song/book so we wrote a story about their adventures. Let them write it, illustrate it and then publish it by putting holes in the sides of the paper and tying them together with ribbon or yarn.