My son Liam is 7 years old and is deafblind. He is a braille reader and as of lately (this school year especially) he has really taken an interest in writing in braille as well! Below are 10 ways that I try to encourage this new skill at home.
1. Thank You Notes
Allow your child to be part of writing thank you notes. When Liam first started helping me write thank he would simply add the braille labels to the cards that I had prepared ahead of time and/or he would help by adding fun tactile stickers to the envelopes. This year I have been having him put the thank you cards into the braille writer and write the word thank you himself (we had quite a few to make this year!). Next year I will probably have him add even more writing independently. This can be easily modified to fit the level of your child. Here is a video is of Liam typing the words "thank you" onto his Christmas thank you cards independently.
2. Notes to School: Lunch Money Envelope
If you are sending notes to school, have your child help write the note or at least label the envelope. I try to have all notes sent to school include braille and print both so that they are accessible to Liam and so that Liam views braille as an important part of his everyday life!
Below are pictures of Liam typing the words "Liam lunch money" onto an envelope and stuffing the envelope with lunch money.
3. Grocery List:
I often create grocery lists in braille if I know ahead of time that Liam will be coming with me to help shop. Recently I have started having him help braille the list as we discover we are out of items. When it is time to shop the list is completed and he has been a part of the process. We keep the list handy on the fridge.
4. Labeling Food:
Liam loves to help prepare dinner. He will often grab items out of the fridge and pantry for me as I need them for the meal. Items such as milk and ketchup are easy for him to find without labels. However, cans of vegetables are not as easy to distinguish. Liam's two favorite vegetables that come in a can are green beans and peas. I have Liam write the labels on his brailler and together we place the labels on the cans so that he can readily find the can of veggies we need.
5. Labeling Around the House:
Our home has been labeled in braille for quite some time now, with labels such as: fridge, on/off, dishwasher, microwave buttons…anything that is labeled with print in our house also will have a braille label (exposure to braille and accessibility is so important!). See my earlier post Creating a Braille-Rich Environment at Home.
To allow Liam more opportunities to write (in ways that are motivating and meaningful to him) Liam has started writing and labeling additional items such as: Mom's phone, family members’ bedrooms, bathroom, Liam's chair.
6. Free Writing Time:
Liam's braille writer is stored in my bedroom where he can easily access it if he asks permission first (for his safety -- braillers are heavy! -- and for the safety of the brailler). Liam often enjoys bringing his brailler out to the kitchen table or floor and writing for fun! His favorite things to write are his name and the name of friends and family members. He also enjoys writing the alphabet. I've written about the "scribbling" that my son does.
7. Display Writing:
Liam and I display his braille work in our home. We will display paper on the fridge with magnets, taped onto the wall or his bedroom door, and other places around the house. Liam is proud and happy to show any guest that comes over his work.
8. Experience Writing:
Enjoy an experience with your child and write about it together! One example of an experience story we wrote was about a trip to the park during the fall and we enjoyed playing in the leaves together. He was able to take his story to school and share it the next day!
9. Lead By Example:
Give opportunities to allow your child to witness you using the braille writer. I think it is great for all children, especially our children with vision impairments, to experience adults writing-leading by example. Usually when Liam witnesses me writing using a brailler or even when he catches me writing with a pen, he wants to try it too!
Liam loves getting mail from friends and family -- especially when there is braille on his letters and cards! Sending mail to friends, family and pen pals is another great opportunity to practice braille writing skills.