The ability to write requires developmental skills such as eye hand coordination- fine motor ability and visual discrimination – These are skills a child develops by practice with age appropriate developmental materials such as blocks- play dough- easel painting – puzzles- as well as being provided with crayons markers- pencils and any other “writing tools”. Children learn to write on their own- on paper when they express the desire to writer something they see- or want to express. This is why we do “language” experience charts- as well as why we write what they tell us on their drawings and painting – That is why we look at picture books- we get them to talk- and then -they want us to write what they say.
The developmental stage is- they want to write what we wrote for them. That is when they try to write on their own. Writing “on a line” comes later- that requires the perfected skill of eye hand coordination- that only happens when their brain has had enough exposure to the types of materials (toys and activities” that get a child to use their fingers to place or do something… then the brain is “ready” to control the hand to aim for the line to write… This is fact- that’s the way the brain works- the brain controls the hands.
It is not considered appropriate methodology to force children to trace their names or letters of the alphabet on a line- in a notebook, workbooks sold in stores- or on paper- Tracing is considered useless and inappropriate altogether- It is not allowed in Universal Pre kindergar en, Head Start- NOR NAEYC or CDA accreditation programs- the BD of Health does not want us to do this either.
Schools that do this – Only do that to “please” parents – or else they do not know any better…this speaks volumes about the lack of appropriateness of any school that would do this to begin with!
HOW WE DO SOME “FORMAL” WRITING UNDER AGE 5, at our center:
We promote freehand writing- beginning in the morning we set out a notebook page with a letter of the alphabet for the child to “attempt to write” on their own… and also their name on the next page – We do not expect children to write “on a line” –we only want them to attempt to develop the eye hand coordination of doing this and attempt to sit and stick to the task/” for about 10 minutes. This is the program Universal Pre Kindergarten and Head Start, as well as CDA guidelines and the NYC accreditation programs follow.
The proper way of teaching writing under the age of 5 is by introducing children to words in written print all around them as well as through language experiences – This motivates children to suit down and attempt to write on their own. That is when we step in and help them- what they ask us to write for them- we write- and slowly they begin to copy their own words- eventually the skill of writing on a line, develops.
To all of this and in addition we list the “Dolch Sight Words” around the room and create a “word wall” for them to have on plain sight- which we refer to throughout the day to “read clearly, out loud” – Through the exposure of having the words around and the availability we provide for them of interesting tools to write with- they sit down and attempt to write the words on their own!
This is the age appropriate methodology we use at this center- as is required by the Bd of Health- ACD guidelines- Universal Pre Kindergarten and Head Start programs- as well as CDA and NY State Accreditation guidelines (www.naeyc.org).