Learning to Write – It IS Rocket Science! – Hedda Sharapan, M.S. Child Development,
With all the attention on high tech these days, I was happily surprised by a low-tech moment I had when I was doing an observation in a preschool. After a few minutes of taking notes, I sensed a number of 4-year-olds clustered around me, curious about what I had in my hands. All I had was a pencil and an ordinary notebook of lined paper with my handwritten notes. I told them that I like to learn about children, and I showed them how I write down things they say and do, so I can remember.
They were so drawn to my notebook that every one of them asked if they could write in it – so many that I offered to tear off pages for them, so they wouldn’t have a long wait for a turn. After a few minutes they brought their pages back to show me what they had written. Some wrote their name, with letters backwards and uneven. Some scribbled a “note” which is the first step. And they all were pleased as can be.
No wonder they were proud! Think of what they’ve accomplished. For young children, learning to write IS “rocket science.” It’s a complex skill that requites memory, fine motor movements, hand-eye coordination, focus and persistence.
Fred often talked about that good feeling that comes from learning how to read and write. Here are some creative ideas from teachers who are using low-tech “tools” to encourage writing:
When you think of it, young children these days rarely see adults writing on a piece of paper. We’re texting on smart
phones and typing emails on smart tablets or laptops. Think about what it can mean when the children see you writing notes or making lists or signs for the classroom. You’re helping them know that we write so we can read the words later. You might want to suggest that to their families, too. When children see that writing is useful, they’ll be more motivated to stick with the hard task of learning to write.
Offer writing props
Think about how children might use “grownup” writing tools in their pretend play. You could put a no
textbook or a clipboard or post-it notes and small pencils in the block corner so children can make signs for their buildings…in the science center so they can draw about their observations…in the housekeeping area so they make shopping lists. Some teachers have a writing center, with props like envelopes, lined tablets, catalogs, any kind of forms, stickers for stamps, old greeting cards.
Help with writing messages
I know a teacher who used writing to help a child who was sad about missing her mother and wouldn’t join in any kind of play. Validating her feelings, the teacher asked the girl if she’d like to dictate a message to give to her mother at pick-up time. Then she read her words back to her and suggested that the girl “write” as many tears as she wanted. The teacher told me that it seemed that knowing her thoughts could be put in writing for her mother gave the girl a way to deal with her feelings and helped her manage through the rest of the day. These are just some of the many ways you’re helping children see that writing can have personal meaning for them. That’s what helps them want to do the hard work of learning to write, and it gives them such a good feeling when they’ve accomplished something as important as writing their names. And when they share their writing attempts with you, your warm response adds immeasurably to their sense of “Look what I can do!”
To get to this stage Mountain Park Academy starts to develop writing skills as early as 2 years old. If you want to learn more about our program please schedule a tour today.
Mountain Park Academy promotes early writing