Monday, September 19, 2011

Writing starts with W!

The third guest post in the September series by Amanda Lehrman from The Momma Files.
Amanda Lehrman has a background in education and is a mother to her son Jack.  Please check back here next Monday for her last post of the September series on tips to prepare your little ones for school.

Writing is funny.  There are so many rules to follow, lines to stay in and utensils to use.  It's all very technical, especially to a child.  In my opinion, it is too technical.  By the time we get through the rules and such, the creativity is gone.  Shouldn't we foster this creativity first and then introduce the rules later?

Photo credit
Children preschool age and below should be writing from the time they can put a writing utensil (sans permanent marker!) to a piece of paper.  Just like with reading, it will not be in conventional sense in which we are accustomed.  It will be a dot here and a line there.  There will be no rhyme or reason but they will be introduced to the concept of putting the pencil or crayon to the paper and making something of their own.  We do with with my 1 year old son.  We have him hold a pencil and help him move it around when we sign birthday cards, etc.  Hand these drawings up on the refrigerator or create a "gallery" of artwork/writing pieces from your child on the wall (painters tape does not peel paint).  The earlier we celebrate their hard work and creative side, the more comfortable they will feel expressing themselves through art or writing.

After the initial phase, your child will most likely learn to sit with a writing utensil, draw pictures and "write".  When this begins, have a special place for their materials.  We call this a "Writing Station" in my classroom; adopt this at home.  Have a bin for different types of paper; construction, computer, lined paper included.  Allow them to use all of these choices and tell them the actual names of the paper to help them identify what they want.  In addition, have different writing utensils in soup cans, coffee cans or shoe boxes for easy accessibility.  Pencils, crayons, water color paint, chalk, colored pencils and markers (if your are brave!) should all be introduced as different mediums.  Challenge your child to mix and explore mediums.  Suggest creating a pencil and water color picture or draw with chalk on a dark colored piece of paper.  These creations can include pictures, words, stickers and any other form of decoration they like.

At first, you may not know what their pictures resemble.  This is OK.  Ask them to describe what they drew. If they are curious on hot to draw something such as an animal, find a picture either in a book or on the computer and show them.  They will also become interested in learning how to write their names.  They will probably ask you how to spell it.  Spell the name out loud and based on readiness level, write the letters and have them trace over them or write the letters and have them copy underneath your writing.  Do no stress over backwards letters (ie: B and D).  This is normal.  Their name is one of the first things children learn to write and spell correctly.  It will be a hug accomplishment for them!

As children get older, their pictures and writing will become more legible.  You will know that the picture is either of a cow or a rhinoceros.  You may not be sure which, but it's narrowed down to one of those!  A helpful hint done with my Kindergartners was labeling their pictures.  Even if the words were spelled totally wrong and the letters mixed up, it was an introduction to writing.  I modeled by showing them an example of a labeled picture (a house scene with grass, flowers, tress, a plane flying overhead, a sun shining, etc).  I drew a line next to each picture and wrote the word.  Have them create a picture and draw lines next to each word.  They should explore with forming letters and deciding which ones they think spell out each word.  Writing is also great for honing a child's fine motor skills.

There is a time and place for learning the rules of writing.  Once school begins, these will come into place for children.  They have time to explore before these technical aspects arrive.  Foster this independent exploration and show them that it is OK to create without rules, lines or dangling participles.  :)

1 comment:

  1. We're finally to the point of being able to clearly understand what my daughter is drawing pictures of. I love being able to talk to her about her drawings without her getting frustrated because I don't know what she's drawn!


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