Early childhood is a crucial time for children’s reading and writing development. Children who lag behind in the early years usually encounter considerable difficulties throughout their academic careers. A recent study tested an exploratory write-to-read method in first grade classrooms as an alternative reading program.
The write-to-read method emphasized the purpose and the audience of all of required writing, in other words, “writing with the reader and the goal in mind.” Researchers also chose to postpone handwriting until the 2nd grade during the experiment and instructed all writing be done electronically with a keyboard. This decision was based on the idea that by the time most students reach the 2nd grade they are already familiar with letters, sounds, and combination of words, and have previous handwriting experience.
A total of 41 7-year-olds participated in the study. The test period lasted for one school year. Students selected their writing topics and books based on their interests at that time. Students were given explicit instructions concerning how a particular text genre was to be written; e.g., narrative or exploratory pieces. Teachers also provided instructions and continuous feedback throughout the writing process.
Depending on the assignment, students were instructed to post their finished papers directly to the class website or share their stories directly with their peers. This gave students a chance to discuss their stories with classmates, allowing for meaningful discussions.
Toward the end of the school year, researchers assessed participants’ language and reading abilities. The tests measured how many words a student could read, write, and understand in one minute.
The findings revealed that students’ reading and writing skills had improved significantly after completing the write-to-read method. Students also reported high levels of satisfaction after completing the program. No control group was used to compare results.
Further, despite the accepted increase in technology in classrooms today, previous researchers (see our post on handwriting in the digital age) have concluded that the act of writing with a pen or pencil is vital to the development of young children’s literacy skills. This study, although small, does present one possible solution for improving children’s reading skills through writing, however, further large scale studies are needed.
By integrating movement, rhythm, and repetition, NeuroNet programs use interactive videos to help children make permanent progress in reading. NeuroNet’s Listen, Talk, and Write exercises develop the speed and accuracy of written forms. Starting with air writing, students use gross motor skills to write large shapes and letter forms in the air. Then they repeat the handwriting practice in their books to reinforce the names and navigation patterns of letters and numbers. Together these reading andwriting activities help children achieve greater automaticity, or fluency, in their development of essential reading, handwriting, and math skills.
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