Do you know that I have a master's degree in teaching and curriculum? I do.
The focus of my studies was on teaching writing.
Despite our initial troubles with the kindergarten journal, I know a thing or two about teaching someone to write.
How We Use Grace's Kindergarten Journal
Each school day, we write the date in Grace's journal. I let her choose whether she'd like to write the date or I should.
After the date, she has to write one sentence. We just started kindergarten in January, so one sentence is appropriate right now. We'll increase the length as her skills and confidence increase.
Because she's just learning the writing process, I help her to sound out the words she'd like to write. I say, "Happy starts with huh. What letter is that?" She considers each sound and writes the corresponding letter. I tell her about silent e's and unfamiliar combinations, like ph, th, and sh.
I'm also using this time to teach her conventions of writing - when to use a capital and lowercase letters, basic punctuation, letter and word spacing, and keeping the words in roughly the same vertical space.
After she writes a sentence (or two), I encourage Grace to draw a picture to go along with her sentence. We have a variety of art supplies available, including crayons, markers, colored pencils, and oil pastels.
Addressing errors with a very young writer
I don't correct errors as Grace writes. I want her to learn the process of writing without obsessing over letters and punctuation. Recording thoughts on paper is a learned skill, and thoughts are more important than mechanics at this stage.
Once she's finished writing, we'll look at the errors. It's important to have a focus in mind; right now, mine is writing the letters correctly.
I read the sentence back to her and point out any letters that are backwards or formed incorrectly. I will also point out words that are sounded out incorrectly, but that's it. I don't point out any other errors.