I just finished an evening walk with one of my friends. As she was about to get into her car to head home, she asked me to remind her of some authors or series books that would work for her daughter (who will be beginning first grade next fall). I suggested a few and we talked about the ones her daughter liked and disliked. She shared with me many of the strengths that her daughter has as a reader. She talked about her fluency and expression. I asked her about understanding the texts she is reading. I also talked with her about her strategies for reading new words. It was a short quick check in and I think my friend felt good about how she was supporting her choices and conversations with books. And then my friend asked (what I think is a really smart question)...what about my daughter's writing? Isn't this often the piece that is left out when we think about balanced literacy? We talked for awhile about strategies that she could when writing with her daughter. I think this is such a grey area for parents. My friend had so many specific questions ( I can't remember them all) that I attempted to guide her.
I did try to clear up that fact that handwriting and writing are not the same. ( content)
I also reminded her to invite her daughter to write authentically...help with the grocery list, thank yous, etc. (purpose)
She asked me what to do when her daughter asks about how to spell a word. Knowing that she is just starting to experiment as a writer, I talked with my friend about being careful to do all the thinking for her daughter. In the classroom, I often ask my students to repeat the word they are writing so they can think through the sounds. I also reminded her that it is ok if she doesn't record every letter. We want her to keep writing and not worry about everything being perfect all the time. Praise her attempts and choose 1 thing to teach her about. (spelling)
I gave her suggestions to help her with thinking about ideas for writing
But I also wanted to make sure I reminded her that rereading her writing is good practice as well as asking the child to find 1 thing to fix up. (revision)
We talked about a lot and my first thought was I probably overwhelmed her but then I thought again about how she seemed like she had a better understanding about how to talk and work with her child. I think parents need to be able to have conversations about how to support their readers and writers. I am a bit inspired to share this story during open house this year. Maybe it will open doors to more questions and conversations.