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American Annals of the Deaf

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Literacy and Your Deaf Child: What Every Parent Should Know

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The Writing Board

When deaf children understand that writing has a valuable function in their lives, they will be more inclined to take an interest in learning to write. For this understanding to take place, they must see other people write and have opportunities to read what other people have written. Both of these experiences will be facilitated if the whole family engages in writing.

A writing board placed in a conspicuous place in the house is an exciting way of getting the family to write. Use the following procedures to get started with your household’s “Writing Board.”

1. Put up a bulletin board somewhere in your house. You could even post it on your refrigerator door, but make sure it has borders so that it stands out from the other objects on the door, such as magnetic pictures. The board should be small enough that it does not become too cluttered.

2. Be the first person to write a story and place it on the board.

3. Talk to family members to gain their support for this concept.

4. Attach a weekly schedule near the board whereby each family member will take a turn at writing something.

5. Make a list of things that the family can write about, such as

- Describe a familiar person, such as a family member or friend.
- Describe a book that you are reading.
- Describe a good TV program that you recently watched.
- Write about some of the things that you want to do this week (a great way to teach your children about setting and accomplishing goals).
- Write a poem, story, or joke.
- Post a picture and describe why you like it.
- Post a photograph of a family member, or one that a family member took, and then write about it.
- Write about something that someone in the family did recently.
- Write about a dream.
- Start a letter to someone and ask if the person writing next can finish it.
- Talk about things that give you lots of pleasure.

6. Ask the members of the family to give ideas about what they would like to see written and placed on the board.

Every now and again, take one of the written works and make it into a screen saver for your computer. This is easily done on any computer with a scanner.

Write at Home: The Early Years

As with reading, the first step in encouraging a deaf child to write is to set a good example. When a child sees his parents writing, he will become eager to put his own marks on paper. And it is a simple matter to call his attention to the many acts of writing that occur all the time in the home, such as taking down phone messages, making shopping lists, writing a letter, sending an e-mail, writing thank-you notes and birthday and special event cards, writing checks, paying bills, and many other writing experiences. He will eventually come to realize that writing is an essential part of the environment and is a form of communication that fulfills a variety of important functions, such as the conveying and storing of information.

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