You may feel unsure about what words you should teach your child first. Beginning with your child’s name, is a great place to start. But where do you go next?

What words should I use first?

A good starting point is to use words that only include the sounds your child has learnt so far. I am going to assume that your child has learnt the sound each letter makes and can write each letter of the alphabet (click on this link if they haven’t). The next step is to practise writing words that just contain these letter sounds. Below is a link that will take you to list for three letter words that only contain the short letter sound.

Is learning to write words the same as learning to read words?

Not quite. Learning to read and learning to write require two different skills. It’s important that you understand these skills so that your child can better develop them.

Reading a word involves: recognising the letters, saying the sounds and then blending the sounds together.

Writing words involves: saying the word, hearing all the sounds in the word from the beginning to end and then using the correct letter formation to write each letter or letter pattern for those sounds.

Use your School Start Buddy to teach your child to write words

The School Start Buddy is specifically designed to teach these essential literacy skills. Just follow the three steps below or, for those who prefer video instruction, I have created a really short video that explains how to use your School Start Buddy to teach your child to write words. 

Begin by saying a word from the list I have created and then asking your child to repeat that word. Your child needs to make each word by first listening for the sounds and then finding the magnetic letter that makes each sound. 

It is important to break learning to write into achievable parts for your child. This is why we are just using the magnetic letters to begin with; it allows your child to focus on hearing each sound and matching that sound with the correct letter without having the added pressure of correctly forming the letter. 

Once your child is able to make words with magnetic letters, spend 5 minutes each day reading out a list of words from the link I have created so that your child can write them on their whiteboard with their marker. It is important to let them refer to the magnetic letters as a reminder of what letters look like if needed.  Also, make sure your child is holding the marker and forming each letter correctly. This is why learning to write on whiteboards is best – children can easily erase errors and try again if needed. 

Once your child has written each word, I would definately get them to quickly read the words from the list. Like I said previously, learning to read and write words requires different skills, so it is imoportant to practise both. 

Here is a video explain the activity

Where to go next?

Once your child has developed the confidence to write simple three and four letter words, the next step is to:

  1. Teach your child that letters can be put together to make a single sound.  For example, “sh” as in “shop”. 
  2. Learn to put words into sentences.
  3. Learn to spell commonly used words by memory.

Teaching your children is a great opportunity to spend time with them. I hope that these useful tips and ideas on writing will aid in your journey with your children.

Sharona Edwards

School Start


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