Tutoring Tips

Kindergarten Reading Readiness Tutoring Tips – Writing

Emergent writers practice what they know about letters—how to form them, sound them out, and put them together to create a representation of speech. Students’ growing understanding of reading and writing inform each other. By the time the student develops a solid concept of word (COW), he/she also understands word boundaries in writing. This means that a student will write a beginning and ending sound for most words. 

Writing is an important part of literacy instruction for the emergent reader, however, one can only hold the student accountable for the letter sounds he or she knows. At the writing stage few, if any, words will be spelled correctly and writing practice can take several forms.

Alphabet letters: An emergent reader just learning the alphabet can practice writing the uppercase and lowercase letters he/she is working on with the tutor, or the student can draw and label pictures of words he/she has discovered that begin with the letter of focus.

Writing Sorts: The child sorts pictures by initial sound. The child can then write the uppercase and lowercase letter for each beginning sound.

Picture drawing and labeling: The child might draw a picture of his/her choice and label it with a title or a description and read it to the tutor. Emergent readers lack a COW, therefore, there will probably not be spaces between words. Early on, letters may be mixed with other symbols. When doing this exercise, don’t let the drawing take more than 5 minutes, and only hold the student accountable for the letters he/she has been taught.

Sentences: These sentences offer a “fill-in-the-blank” for the child to complete as he/she wishes: “Bob bit into the big _______________.” The tutor writes the first part of the sentence, then the child completes the sentence by filling in the blank.

Patterned Sentences: These are sentences based on the pattern of a familiar text.  For greatest support, they can take the form of a cloze sentence (see above). You can repeat the pattern from a book by writing a sentence in the child’s notebook with a blank for him/her to fill in. Or a child can write a whole, original sentence based on a pattern. For example: “___________, _____________, what do you see? I see a ___________…” after reading Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Eric Carle.

Original Sentences: An original sentence can be written in response to reading, or about something that’s important to the child, like an upcoming birthday. After the child writes the sentence, it can be written by the tutor on a sentence strip, with corrected spelling and spacing between words, and can be read again and again at future tutoring sessions. The sentence can also be used to practice COW by finger pointing when reading and matching with a cut up version of the sentence.

Johnston, Francine R., et al. Book Buddies: a Tutoring Framework for Struggling Readers. Second ed., Guilford Press, 2009.

Emergent or Beginning Writing Video

Stages of Writing Development Video