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Summer Writing

June 16, 2020 | Emily Ford Sytsma

This blog was written by former MSS Kindergarten teacher Kim Knoester.

How do you help your child develop over the summer and prepare him/her for reading in first grade? Create space for your child to write.

The rules for writing are simple in kindergarten and entering first grade. First, draw a detailed picture. Second, write the sounds you hear in the words that tell your story. Finally, reread your work to make sure you didn’t forget anything important.

Writers begin with a detailed picture and write about their experiences. Ruby draws and writes about her trip to an upside down house.

Writers listen for sounds in a word and they write the sounds they hear. Here, Stella models how to listen for many sounds in a word. She writes, “I am going to the doctor’s office.”

Jack works to carefully make letters fit the lines. Holding an idea, listening for sounds, identifying letters, and remembering how to form them is hard work! Writing helps to strengthen the child’s working memory.

Writers use spaces between each word. Caroline puts a finger space between each word as she writes about eating at a Mexican restaurant.

Writers proofread. Camila went back over her words and realized she could use the word wall to spell a word instead of sounding it out. She also added a period she had forgotten.

At the end of writing, writers ask four questions.

  1. Did I listen for all of the sounds?
  2. Did I use finger spaces?
  3. Did I put a period at the end of my sentence?
  4. Did I add details to my picture?

So, what can you do?

  • Create space for your child to write. Blank books, stapled pages, and bound journals are great summer tools to have on hand for vacations, camps, and general evening routines. These books make great summer journals.
  • Ask, “What sounds do you hear?” Your child doesn’t need to write every sound, spell the word correctly, form each letter perfectly, or space every word appropriately. What’s most important is that you child feels confident in his/her ability to stretch a word, identify some of the sounds, and write those corresponding letters.
  • Don’t tell your child how to spell a word. It’s the process, not the perfect product, that’s important. Spelling patterns will come later.
  • Notice what your child does well. Point out details in drawings, carefully formed letters, and interesting ideas. Be positive and encouraging.
  • Write along with your child. Grocery lists, thank you notes, and letters to grandparents all model practical uses of writing for your child.
  • Hold all things lightly. Drawing and writing should be a fun activity, not burdensome. Follow your child’s lead and level of interest. If your child engages joyfully, great! If your child is disinterested, don’t press. there is time.

Happy Writing!

Emily Ford Sytsma

Early Childhood Director

Ms. Sytsma began her career as an educator working in inclusive classrooms in the state of Hawaii but found her roots began to grow here at Mustard Seed School when she came to teach in 1996. She joined the preschool team in 2007, after teaching for many years in the Middle School. She finds delight in the preschool’s approach to teaching and learning, inspired by the preschools in Reggio Emilia, Italy. As Early Childhood Director, she seeks to support teachers in their work helping children learn about thinking and creative expression.

Ms. Sytsma’s the mother of a MSS alum and a current student. When not at school, Ms. Sytsma enjoys traveling with her husband and two children. She tends a very simple rooftop garden in Jersey City Heights and on long Saturday mornings, she may be seen taking long walks along the Hudson River and listening to audiobooks or podcasts while organizing her thoughts and getting her heart rate up.

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