Accept whatever the child writes: drawings, written attempts, approximate spellings.
“I like the way you put a b for baby.”
“You have most of the letters for Daddy.”
Believe, as children do, that they can write.
“Let’s leave a note for mom. I’ll write part and you write part and you write part. You know how to write “Mom” and “love” and how to sign your name. Let’s try some first letters of some other words.”
Help children explore their ideas.
“Grandma has been sick. What shall we say on a card for her? Shall we tell her we will come visit?”
Share the pen.
“You write the first letter and I’ll write the rest of the word.”
Be willing to help a child say the word slowly (in “turtle talk”) and listen for the sounds of the words, rather than just spelling the word.
“Say the word slowly. What do you hear first? What do you hear last? (Initial and final sounds is great for kindergarten)
Focus on and celebrate what the child can do. (Focus on sound spelling, not book spelling for now.)
“Wow! That is wonderful sound spelling! Can you write more?”