There are two very important skills that I want to share with you so that your child can start writing. You will be surprised how easy these skills are to teach, but I assure you, they are absolutely essential. I will very briefly explain these skills and then I will show you how to teach them to your child.
Firstly, your child needs to be able to hear each letter sound (not letter name) and match the sound with the correct letter.
What is the letter sound?
The letter sound refers to the most common sound each letter makes – /a/ as in “apple”, /b/ as in “bee”, /c/ as in “carrot” and so on. These are different from the letter names, which is what we say when reciting the alphabet.
Why start with the letter sound?
These are the sounds in the first words children learn to read and write. For example, “hot”, “cat”, and “sit”.
If your child still needs to learn the letters and sounds, I recommend clicking on the link below where you will find a simple 10 minute activity that you can do with your child daily.
Secondly, your child needs to be able to fluently write each letter of the alphabet using the correct pencil grip and letter formation.
Why is this skill important?
If your child can hear letter sounds and then quickly and confidently write the letter that matches each sound, then it is much easier for them to move to the next stage of writing (writing word and then sentences). This is because they don’t have to put so much effort into recalling what letters look like and how to write them, but rather focus on other skills that enable them to write words and sentences.
How to use your School Start Buddy to teach this skill
The School Start Buddy is designed to teach this exact skill. The clearly displayed magnetic letters allow you to call out each letter sound while your child finds the correct letter. This means your child can begin by just focusing on hearing the sound and finding the correct letter, without having the added pressure of correctly forming the letter. If you are unsure what I mean, this is a cute video of my daughter doing the activity with her younger sister – it shows how easy it is to do.
Once your child has done this, give them the whiteboard marker and ask them to write letters as you call out each sound. While they are doing this, monitor that they are using the correct pencil grip and forming the letters correctly. Whiteboards are so good for children learning to write because nothing is permanent; mistakes can easily be erased so they are more willing to ‘have-a-go’. Here is a 50 second video demonstrating this activity.
More activity ideas
Guess the Word
This is a simple game that encourages your child to hear the sounds in words that are spoken without having the extra burden of writing the word. You simply need to say the sounds in a word and ask your child to guess the word. For example, you might say “t-r-ee”, and your child needs to guess that you are saying “tree”. Since your child only has to hear the sounds and does not have to identify the letters or write the word, you may use any word your child knows for this activity. Once your child becomes confident at guessing the words, swap roles so that your child has to say the sounds and you have to guess the word.
‘I spy with my little eye……’
If you are not familiar with this game, you simply need to choose something that both you and your child can see and say “I spy with my little eye something beginning with ……….(say the first sound in the word)”. For example, if you are sitting outside and there are clouds in the sky, you might say ‘I spy with my little eye something beginning with “c”’. Your child then needs to guess that you can see clouds using the first sound as a clue.
I went to the shop and bought…….
This is a fun game that will help your child hear the first sound in words, as well as develop their working memory. It can be played with a group of people, or just two people (you and your child). The first person says “I went to the shop and bought….(say something that begins with the first letter of the alphabet – /a/ sound)”. The next person would repeat “I went to the shop and bought….(they would say whatever the first person said and then add an extra item that starts with the next letter of the alphabet – /b/ sound). Keep doing this for as long as you can both remember everything you bought at the shop.