How to Teach Writing in Kindergarten (3 Things to Remember!)
July 9, 2022
Wondering how to teach writing to kindergarten students? These young learners are still learning the basics of everything so in this post, I share 3 big ideas to keep top of mind when teaching writing in kindergarten!
Before I dive in, I wanted to let you know you can watch or listen to all this information in video format below:
To read the information, just keep scrolling!
Tip #1: Temper Your Expectations
You want to be realistic about what to expect from your students. This doesn’t mean you should lower your expectations to NOTHING because plenty of your students will surprise you and write some great pieces by the end of the year. However, you want to keep in mind that teaching students to write is a marathon, not a sprint, and it is going to start off slowly. Don’t get discouraged, just meet your students where they are at and make sure you are celebrating their writing with them at each step along the way as they work their way up to published pieces.
Below are two tips I find most helpful for tempering your expectations:
Tip #1: The stages of emergent writing chart below is a great reference when teaching writing in kindergarten because your class will likely be filled with students at all different skill levels. It is also a great reminder that all of these stages are normal and they are all part of the developmental process of writing. If you have students that are struggling, you can use the stages of emergent writing chart to find where they are at and get a better idea of how to help them transition to the next level.
Tip #2: Remember that the Kindergarten → 1st grade writing standard clearly states that students can use a combination of drawing, dictating, and writing. That means it is totally ok if you have students who are still using transitional words or still heavily relying on dictation by the end of the year. As long as they are able to tell a story in some way and they are progressing through the stages and showing growth, you should be proud and know that you have done your job!
Tip #2: Illustrations are the Story
The next big idea to keep in mind when teaching writing to kindergarteners is to focus on the illustrations because, as we just went over in #1, that is part of the standard. If your student can’t developmentally write out 3-4 sentences yet, but they can draw pages of illustrations that clearly express a narrative of what is happening, that is still a story.
In fact, I have an entire unit on wordless book lessons in my SJT Writing Club that is focused on teaching students how to write wordless stories. There are plenty of skills students can learn through wordless text exercises that can help them when they go to write stories with words and full sentences.
Tip #3: Student Choice Leads to Student Voice
The best way to get your students to authentically write a story is by giving them the opportunity to make their own choices about it. Whether you are teaching opinion, narrative, or informative text, you want to follow your students’ ideas because it will make them more excited and willing to write when they get to choose their own topics.
Two tips about student choice to keep in mind:
Number 1: Whenever you are modeling your own writing for the class, you want to make sure you are sharing relatable ideas. This could be as simple as writing about a trip to the grocery store because you know that most of your students have had a similar experience. You don’t want to model a big, grand event that happened to you because your students might not know where to go from there when it is their turn. By telling stories about small, everyday occurrences, your students can relate and will be able to make connections in order to come tell their own story.
Number 2: Student choice does not have to mean that there is a lack of structure during writing. You can give your students the freedom to write about topics that interest them while also keeping them on track. For example, all of my writing lessons are very detailed and structured, and they all follow the same pattern:
Review what we learned yesterday
Introduce our learning target for today
I model the activity
Students will try it out
Students will try to add the skill into their own writing
This allows me to guide my classroom and make sure my students are learning the skills and lessons that they need to know, while still keeping them interested and excited to learn!
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Are you a kindergarten teacher?! Do you have any other tips and ideas for teaching writing to our students?! Let me know down in the comments!