It is very important for our children to learn how to write, what is not important is this incessant demand on our two year old’s to not only write but write 1 to 50, 100, 150 etc. as the spirit leads each school, teacher or even parent!
Please, can we just stop this ridiculous trend?
Children are not known to really be interested in the art or act of writing till they are 4 and above. We need to stop making demands based on our expectations which are themselves based on feelings, we need to look at what is age appropriate and work with just that.
Am I saying that children should not write before they are 4 years old?
No. (Just to clarify before I get bombarded with that accusation!)
But I am saying that we should stop insisting on things that are not practical.
Did you know that there are so many things you could do to prepare the hands of the child for writing?
This is the missing link which we need to get right.
It is wrong to be putting pencils in the hands of a 2 year old before they have learnt to use their hands and fingers, or gained any eye hand coordinating skills.
Instead of insisting on writing 1 to 100 etc, let’s try the following instead:
- Lacing – cut out a cardboard sheet into a nice shape and use a hole puncher to punch holes round the cardboard. Provide shoe laces for the children to lace round the board.
- Play dough – children love working with this. I remember when I was a child, it was plasticine! Modelling clay for children to play with. It gets the fingers busy and helps the child develop strong fingers, fine motor skills.
- Beading – you can do this with big beads and strings, or pipe cleaners, make sure the materials used are safe and age appropriate.
- Cutting – put those hands to some use and get some power muscles forming in them. Make sure you show your child how to handle sharp objects correctly, always be there when they are working on this particular exercise and put it (the scissors) away in a safe place after use, but please let them learn to work with this instrument.
- Finger writing: in gari, with water or anything similar. Children love this!
- Tweezers, droppers pegs – You find a lot of exercises in the Montessori Practical Life curriculum using these tools. They do wonders helping the child gain strength and concentration skills.
- Using knobbed puzzles and toys so the child can learn to use their pincer grip even before they start handling the pencil
- Also give them writing instruments to handle even before they start formal writing, it all helps when there is no stress and the child has time to practice and get acquainted with the tools before hand. Colour pencils, crayons, chalk and markers.
- Allow the child to paint a lot, you do not need them to do masterpieces at this point, self expression and the time to get those fingers, hands and wrists working is the goal at this point.
- Let them write in the air, trace in the sand, and of course if you are Montessori inclined use the Sandpaper Numbers, and Alphabets.
The thing is I wouldn’t worry too much about whether my child can write 1 to 200 at 3 years, but I would try and make sure that my child understands quantity can count in sets, hear sounds in words, knows a lot of rhymes, enjoys listening to stories being read out loud, can retell them and also tell his own stories too.
On the issue of writing let’s get it right for our children’s sake
Your Mama Monte