Writing is a fun activity which requires your child to exercise creativity and delve into his or her imagination.
At the kindergarten levels, students are introduced to stories through storytelling or picture books.
They tend to interpret the meaning of a story with the aid of visuals (pictures) and sounds (the story being read aloud to them). This results in them quickly picking up the ability to verbally share their own stories and recounts.
However, when it comes to writing, they often struggle to put their ideas and thoughts into words or full sentences.
Furthermore, being able to structure a story can prove difficult for these young learners — especially without guiding pictures or helping phrases.
What are some of the main challenges preschoolers face when writing stories? What can you do to make the writing process more fun and exciting for your child? Sue Lynn Lee, our Academic Director for the Early Years and lower primary programmes, addresses your concerns in this article.
Based on our years of experience in teaching, some of the top challenges that preschool students struggle with when it comes to writing are:
Although most preschool children may find it a struggle at times, there are ways to get around the challenges they face to bring out the fun in writing.
To help your child with some of these challenges, here are some of Ms Lee's recommendations.
Firstly, your child may find writing tough if they are unable to come up with sufficient ideas for their stories. This is similar to writer’s block and usually comes about when students do not have enough exposure to stories or plots.
To help your child with this, you can read more storybooks together to expose him or her to as many creative storylines as possible.
While watching television may be frowned upon at times, exposure to healthy kids' programmes can also help children overcome their “writer’s block”.
You can also try having conversations with your child about his or her favourite stories or books that he or she is already familiar with.
Children have a lot of fun imagining a different ending or imagining what happens when the villain triumphs at the end of the story.
One other struggle that takes the fun out of writing is having too many ideas and stories to share, but being unable to express them in writing.
This usually happens when your child can't pen his or her thoughts in a clear and coherent manner. If your child faces this problem, remember not to inhibit his or her creativity.
Children can be encouraged to first share their stories verbally before being tasked to start writing a short part of it.
They could choose to write their favourite part, the most exciting part, or even just the conclusion of the story as a bite-sized writing exercise. Encouraging preschoolers to use drawings to put their thoughts onto paper before getting them to write about their ideas could work too.
Then comes the problem of creating a logical storyline.
Many children struggle with putting their story together in a logical manner, especially if they wish to write about multiple occurrences within the same story. Their interesting ideas then slowly evolve into an unrealistic and illogical plot.
Again, remember not to discourage your child by pointing this out.
Over time, you can help your child improve on this by speaking to him or her more about the little events that happen in school or during family outings. This helps your child learn to describe events logically, as they would have happened in real life.
Try this simple activity at home. Get your child to arrange the sequence of a series of pictures that form a story.
This builds their ability to rationalise logic flow and gaps. We have put together a special guide to help your child with this.
Download this fun guide to hone your child's writing skills from the comfort of home.
Children often feel discouraged with writing when they struggle with spelling.
Learning to spell accurately will take time, especially as your child's vocabulary expands. It should not be something that holds him or her back in using a certain word in a story.
At the kindergarten level, it is okay for your child to use his or her own spelling when writing stories, as long as you share how each word is supposed to be spelled afterward.
Lastly, we should not nitpick on too many grammar and punctuation errors in their writing.
These mistakes are very common for preschool children and can take the fun out of writing if they are pointed out too often.
Similar to spelling, learning to use proper grammar and phrasing will take time, so encourage your child to continue writing in spite of these mistakes.
This builds their ability in descriptive writing.
When reading storybooks with them, draw their attention to the use of full stops in the story. When writing with them, encourage them to use short sentences and to put a full stop at the end of every “idea” that they come up with.