One of the first things you learn to do in school is write. You learn the shape of letters, and how to write your name, and build those skills until they take on a life of their own. As a teacher with a classroom full of first graders, the biggest challenge will be to get students engaged and ready to embrace the benefits of writing. This post explores the importance of inspiring a love for words, and how it can be done.
Why Do First Graders Need Writing?
First graders need writing skills for the same reason that everyone does because it is just one of those essential things that you can’t escape. It encourages them to learn about who they are and what they love, improves essential areas like spelling and reading, and enables them to feel empowered in their learning journey as opposed to being held back by it. What else does writing bring to the table for young students?
The one thing that children will start to do in the first grade is build their own learning styles and find their feet. What makes them confident? It is your job to know and help them nurture it. Writing is not everyone’s strong point, but it is a necessity, nevertheless. When it begins to take shape, there is no telling where it will go but one thing that is certain is that it is the foundation of any academic journey. Autonomous learning will enable children to grow organically and develop their particular skills in a way that works for them.
Exploring Their Creative Boundaries
Everyone has creativity within, and it is often channeled in different ways. There is value in defining boundaries and pushing limits, and writing can do both of these things once children begin to gain confidence and develop their understanding of exactly what they can do.
Self-Expression and Emotional Regulation
Young children need to understand the value of emotional regulation and expression. Though it is often difficult to communicate big feelings with words, being able to write them down is somewhat easier. This provides them with another channel for getting to know what they are feeling and finding positive ways to communicate it.
Positive Teaching Approaches
So, how can teachers develop these key skills in a way that will engage students and inspire a love for the craft? The truth is, every child is going to need a different approach and while there are some activities that the whole class will devour, others will flop and fail.
Make it a Daily Thing
The best writers practice every day, and this is exactly what teachers should be encouraging. Use some 1st grade writing prompts to inspire a creative, free-flowing session at the start of the day before the usual lessons begin, and watch what magic transpires as a result. Children will love the freedom and flexibility to embrace their true, creative selves, and it can be something that is entirely for them as opposed to having the pressure of sharing with their peers.
Have a Class Book
Reading and writing go hand in hand, and this is a well-established fact. Therefore, having a set book that everyone can enjoy together is going to be an essential part of building up these core skills. Often, a child yearns to write their own stories because they feel inspired by the things they hear from the page or even read for themselves. This is such a crucial age for tapping into the imagination and letting it run wild and free, and this is the perfect way to do it.
As well as independent learning agendas, there is a lot of value in collaborative, whole-class projects too. This can be an ongoing thing that stretches out for a whole block of learning if it needs to. The focus should be on taking the time to build something together that everyone has a part in. It could be writing a play to perform for the parents so there is a shared motivational factor or asking children to team up and write two different points of view of a classic tale like Beauty and the Beast.
Use What They Know
Speaking of classic tales, this is also another great strategy. If a child has some point of reference and familiarity with the task at hand, they will feel instantly more connected to it and confident handling the assignment. Lean into popular stories like fairytales and celebrated children’s authors and adapt them to the class setting.
Be the Example
A lot of teaching is leading the classroom by setting an example of what you want to manifest. This means, when it comes to teaching and inspiring a love of writing, you must also embrace the author’s spirit. Develop your own stories and find the confidence to read them out to the class. There is a great chance that they will thrive and feel inspired by this action alone, and it will encourage them to develop their own sense of self in this division.
Keep Spelling Separate
Correct spelling of words is important, but it will come with time. The focus on encouraging skills for writing should be more about getting the words to flow and the sentences to have structure and diversity. Spelling can be focused on in future months towards the end of the year and during separate learning hours, but when writing is the focus, let that land where it will. Being overly corrective will be a direct way to put a child off from developing their skills and making them too focused on getting the letters in the right order. The key here is to instill confidence that is exempt from criticism. As you develop other strategies in the main lesson time, the technical side will come naturally.
A love of writing is important for every person on earth. The first grade is a crucial moment in a child’s life where they will decide that they either love it or hate it. It all depends on how the message is delivered and what opportunities they are given to explore their skills, creativity, and sense of self.