If you want to learn about great ways to encourage your child's writing skills, then I have the book for you! Before the holidays I received Jennifer Hallissy's new book, The Write Start: A Guide to Nurturing Writing at Every Stage from Scribbling to Forming Letters and Writing Stories (title and cover links in the post are affiliate links). As soon as it came in the mail, I gobbled it up.
The Write Start is a fantastic resource for parents who wish to encourage their children's writing skills. In the first part of the book, Hallissy offers parents guidelines for observing writing readiness, tips for parents to demonstrate their own love of writing to their children, and ways to encourage confident writing. She also includes ideas for making the home an inspiring place to write (I loved "The Writer's Pantry"). However, I wish that in the future when authors are describing ways to create a place in their home to keep equipment for their children they would keep in mind that some of us live in only 650 sq. feet of space and do not have room for yet another desk and bureau of stuff. Ideas for the rest of us, please! (I'll have to come up with a solution and blog about it, I guess.)
Hallissy's experience as an occupational therapist makes the chapter, "Preparing Your Child To Write," especially helpful. Her ideas emphasize the importance of a multi-sensory approach and there are excellent suggestions as to how to support both the big and small muscles required for writing. I found the detailed description about the proper way to write, from siting, to holding the pencil and forming letters to be very useful. I also appreciate that she includes non-writing ideas which support these skills.
Hallissy identifies four stages of writers: the Scribbler (pre-writing), the Speller (forming letters), the Storyteller (turning words into sentences and stories) and the Scholar (mastering communication). Identifying these stages allows parents to chose and encourage appropriate writing activities for their child.
The second part of the book includes writing activities. Hallissy breaks them down into various categories, such as "learn, "do", "play" and so forth. She describes the activity, the materials needed and then presents variations based on the level of the writer. For example, in the activity "Food For Thought", Scribblers can scribble on flip-top memo pads like waiters, but Scholars can move on to creating cookbooks.
This is not a book about drills, and it is not about rushing to the next "level." I like the way Hallissy emphasizes flexibility, imagination, the parental role, as well as following the child's lead (because sometimes it is right to just stop). Many of the activities are variations on what you may already be doing: writing thank you notes, keeping a journal or nature notebook, but the author offers a new look at these familiar projects as well as suggesting fresh ideas. I love the idea of having your child keep an Inventer's Logbook, for example. Hallissy also includes a helpful set of templates to use in some of the writing exercises.
You can be sure that I will be doing some of these exercises and activities with Kiddo and New Kid in the near future, I am already gathering my materials, so watch this space! In the meantime, I highly recommend Hallissy's book, The Write Start.
Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher but it in no way influenced my review or my opinion of the book, and I was not compensated in any other way. I rarely accept offers to review or promote products on this blog, only when I think it will be of interest to my audience. Thanks for reading!