Can writing make my child a better reader?

Yes.  The skills are entwined and reinforce one another if taught together.

  • Brain research shows that the more modes of learning which we use, the more apt we are to remember.  Children who are learning how to recognize a letter shape, or to distinguish between two similar letter shapes, will reinforce reading these shapes if they write the letters as well.
  • Children with poor reading skills often have poor handwriting skills. Yet practice at handwriting (drawing letters with their fingers, forming the shape of letters with their bodies, tracing letter strokes and patterns,  or giving directions to another person on how to write a letter) can improve not only writing skills but reading skills.
  • If a young child likes a certain genre, say fairy tales, and attempts to write one (even just a few sentences), she may encounter problems—how to begin, sequencing, spelling, or how to describe the frog’s voice.  The next time she reads a fairy tale, or has one read to her, she will be more aware of the way another author handled the same problems.  Her reading comprehension will develop in more sophisticated ways than if she had not written her own fairy tale.
  • Sounding out letters and then assembling groups of letters into words is one of the first steps of reading.  Many methods from flash cards to letter tiles help children grasp the connection between letters and sounds, but one of the best methods is writing.  The child wonders about the spelling of a word and sounds it out before writing it down, sometimes erasing, until he is satisfied.
  • Kindergarteners might not be ableGirl reading "inventive" writing of younger sister. to read many words, but if they know their letter sounds, they can write any word they can think of using phonetic spelling.  Then they can read their passage back.  With adult help, they can understand that stories, emails and even books are within their grasp both as writers and as readers.
  • The phrase “reading and writing” puts the reading first, but research in the past thirty years has shown that writing comes first for most children.  The old philosophic idea of a child being an empty vessel who needs to be filled up with knowledge (often from reading) has been shown not to be true.  Children are vessels bursting with ideas, longing for an audience to share them with, sometimes through writing.  –Mrs. K

When my son was in kindergarten, phonetic spelling was called inventive writing.  I loved it since I could read his thoughts even in kindergarten.  But many parents didn’t like it.  They claimed that their children would never learn to spell words correctly.  That has been an ongoing criticism which young adults now blame for their not being able to spell well.  However, with spell-check, this is becoming a moot point.  –Mrs. A

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