Children are not born understanding the purpose of writing. It has to be modeled in multiple and meaningful ways. This can be seen as young children write. Often times, they have a hard time distinguishing between the picture and the words when they write. We have to be explicit about print and its purpose: to communicate meaning to the reader. There are many simple ways we can do this. Labeling your home with print, acknowledging environmental print, writing them notes, and pointing out words and features of print as you read aloud are all great ways to expose young children to print. Another great tool is to use dictation with young children. And today, I’d like to show you how simple it is! (This is week 3 of Preschool and Kindergarten Writing Lessons.)
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The Child Draws a Picture
The first step in using dictation with young children is to ask them to draw a picture. This can happen anywhere. With sidewalk chalk, on a dry erase board, or on paper.
Ask Your Child to Tell You About Her Picture
After your child is finished, ask her about her picture. I like to ask, “Will you tell me about your picture?” instead of, “What did you draw?” It’s just my preferred way of saying it. Allow your child to tell you all about her picture.
She may give you one sentence or an entire paragraph! If she only gives a few words, help her create a sentence or two with words.
Write Down Your Child’s Words
If the child has used paper, I like to write a sentence or two about her picture on the same paper. (I always ask permission first. If the child says I cannot write on her paper, I use a separate sheet of paper.) If the child’s sentence does not make sense, I like to re-phrase it a bit first. If the child has given me a paragraph, I ask permission to paraphrase what she has said so I can get it into one or two sentences.
I tried to convince MBug that the girl (the yellow object in the picture) needed a head as she was telling me about her picture, but she would not budge. She said her picture was exactly like she wanted it to be. 😉
Benefits of Dictation with Young Children
- You are modeling that print has value and a purpose.
- You are modeling phonemic awareness, how you can stretch out sounds to write words.
- You are modeling phonics, helping the young child make the connection between letter sounds and letters.
- You are modeling conventions such as capital letters, lower case letters and punctuation. (I like to say things like, “And I’m going to put a big, fat period on the end!”)
Adaptations of Dictation:
- Younger children (age 1 or 2) benefit greatly from simply labeling their pictures. Instead of writing out entire sentences, you may just label their picture (writing MOM beside the picture of mom or CAR beside the car in their picture.) Again, I urge you to respect the child and ask permission first.
- Older preschoolers and Kindergartners may be ready to help you write the sentence (this is called sharing the pen). We’ll talk more about this later in our Preschool and Kindergarten Writing Lessons series!
Be sure to visit all the other posts and topics in our series, Preschool and Kindergarten Writing Lessons! Click HERE or on the image above.
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