Teaching Kindergarteners to Write

When teaching writing to kindergartners it is very important to be aware of the developmental level of each individual child. Five year-olds can be at many different stages of intellectual, physical, and emotional growth. The writing lessons should meet each child at their personal level of ability. Students will progress through the steps of writing at different paces.

Before and during formal writing instruction the students should be exposed to big books with illustrations and varied text. The teacher should point out and discuss the authors’ style. Have the students brainstorm where they think the authors got the ideas for their books. Sometimes count the words on a page. Notice the spaces between words and the capitals at the beginning of each sentence. The teacher should also do interactive writing lessons with the class. Use chart paper to write class stories. Discuss what things they have noticed that good writers do when they write.

The beginning stage of teaching writing to kindergartners is to have them draw three to four pictures in sequence to tell a story. They should practice orally sharing their story using the illustrations as a guide. Proper pencil grip and handwriting (penmanship) instruction should be taught in conjunction with this early stage.

During the course of a week, the teacher should meet or confer with each student one on one to discuss their stories. At the beginning the teacher can have the child dictate a sentence for each picture in a story. The teacher can write their sentence at the bottom of their illustration. This will help the students learn that letters represent sounds, words can have many sounds, and sentences can be made up of many words.

At this point some students will be developmentally ready to start labeling objects in their pictures with letters to match the beginning sound. Others will be ready to tackle beginning and ending sounds. The more advanced students will be able match multiple sounds in words with letters.

When a kindergartner is ready they can start to write simple sentences to match their illustrations. Some students find it helpful to count the words in their sentence on their fingers before they start writing so they know where to put the spaces. Don’t worry about proper spelling at this stage; just have them write the sounds they hear in each word. If a student gets hung up on spelling it will limit their quality of writing. Encourage the class to use environmental print in the room when they write. If they want to write about a birthday they can use the class birthday chart for proper spelling. Make sure the classroom is print rich.

Kindergartners are ready to beginning lessons on writing. However, the level of each child’s writing will depend on their individual developmental stage.