5 yo newly interested in writing on his own - to correct or not to correct - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 10 Old 11-13-2009, 01:29 PM - Thread Starter
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My 5 yo DS never had any interest in letters until the past month or so. He didn't recognize the letters or want to read, and never learned or liked the alphabet song. He learned to write his name spontaneously right after turning 4 and that was it until now.

Now he is extremely interested in writing and spelling words, though not really in reading. The problem is that he reverses letters (J, N), and sometimes writes a mirror image of words from right to left (particularly when he gets to the end of a line of L to R text - he just starts below the end of that first line of text and writes backward in a mirror image on the second line).

He is highly motivated, and so proud of his writing. But then I feel the need to point out his reversals, and he gets really annoyed. He is doing this on his own, and asks for help at times, but doesn't want to deal with unasked for advice.

So on one hand, I don't want him to get in bad habits that will be difficult to break later, so I try to gently point out his reversals and give him a chance to fix them (he is usually not interested in making corrections).

On the other hand, he is doing this writing on his on spontaneously, for himself, and not asking for help. It kind of seems lousy for me to interfere with unasked for advice.

SO - I bought some HWT materials with a thought that we would separately work on writing letters correctly so I could have a chance to work through the reversals at a time when he is less invested in a particular project. So far, he rushes through HWT fast as he can to finish and doesn't seem to absorb anything (takes him about 2 minutes rather than the 5 minutes it would take to do a reasonable job) .

I am looking for other opinions on how to handle this - keep correcting him gently and don't worry about bad habits developing, or try to correct bad haits now... and of so, how? TIA for any advice...

aran .......... Mr. aran .......... DS1 .......... DS2
BIL Oct. 1961 - Jun. 2009 taken by cancer
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#2 of 10 Old 11-13-2009, 04:30 PM
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With my daughter, I'm choosing to do very little correction. She's 5, she's just starting to write, and I figure she's obviously learning a lot now, why would she stop? With so many printed things around, I think she'll eventually pick up on the directionality as well as the shape. If this persists for quite a while, and she's clearly improving many other aspects of her writing (size, top/bottom line, spacing) but the directionality (mirror imaging, I mean) isn't improving at all, then I'll start thinking about how to address it.
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#3 of 10 Old 11-13-2009, 04:39 PM
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Let him write! That's actually a pretty nifty idea to write backwards on the next line- in a way it makes more sense than the way we actually DO write on the next line, if you stop to think about it. If you push him right now, you might dampen his desire to write at all. I really don't think he's "developing bad habits" right now, nor do I think it will be hard to teach him "correct writing" when he's ready to learn that.

In a few months or a year, he'll be developmentally ready to notice how other people write, how books are printed up, etc. He's likely to copy what he sees and self-correct at that point, which is also when he'll be open to suggestions to make his writing "better", because by then he'll be internally motivated to write "correctly."

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#4 of 10 Old 11-13-2009, 04:52 PM
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My dd is a very proficient writer but we started out with "invented spelling" which just means that it was largely phonetic. By not worrying about correctness she was able to have a much better content than she would be if she had had to stick to things she could spell and punctuate correctly. Instead of writing "the dog has a ball" she could make fantastic stories or express her displeasure with things around the house. I think that if you continue to insist on correctness at that young age you will stifle any expression and interest.
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#5 of 10 Old 11-13-2009, 05:24 PM
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I do writing as part of our school activities, and during that time I will correct her (this is maybe 15 - 20 minutes a day). The rest of the time, if she is just spontaneously writing something (which she does frequently) I don't correct. I will sometimes comment on things that she did right - e.g., earlier today she wrote "baek cukees in the kiching" and I said it was a very nice sign and that she did an especially good job writing "in" and "the". I didn't correct anything.

When we're "doing school" I've tried various things to help her improve her writing - sometimes she is in the mood for one type of activity and totally opposed to another (even if she used to like it). So if one set of exercises hasn't gone over well, I'd just keep trying others until you hit on one he enjoys - and if he's not having fun with it, keep it short.
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#6 of 10 Old 11-13-2009, 06:45 PM
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I would say, don't correct but perhaps subtly demonstrate?

He is very young and reversals are totally normal.

If he's game, perhaps you could practice forming the letters in a big tray of rice or in shaving cream on the table. Just say, "I'm making J" and then with your finger draw it correctly to demonstrate to him, just continue to demonstrate and not correct. If he finds this a drag (but what kid doesn't like playing with shaving cream?) then I would just drop it and wait til he's a bit older. Otherwise, you are right that you may dampen his enthusiasm. We have also found sandpaper letters to be a huge blessing that has drastically improved her handwriting, but this is more as a schooly activity that we do formally include in her learning plan for the year in addition to the "fun" multisensory stuff.

Another idea is drawing big chalk letters on concrete and letting him trace them with toy cars. You can make a START spot and a FINISH and make a game out of it while keeping with the traditional 1.2.3. method of forming the letters.

But yeah, I would agree with pp's---don't push it at all and just let him enjoy his newfound ability. How great for your son! It's very exciting, isn't it?

Happy and in love with my family!
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#7 of 10 Old 11-13-2009, 07:26 PM
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I would not correct unless he is asking for help with making it better. For now I would let him enjoy what he produces. As he becomes a reader, he will become more interested in his own writing seeming correct.

Right now I don't correct our 6.5 yo's writing unless it's either part of a lesson, or he asks for help. Any writing he does for fun is his to evaluate by his own standards.

DS1 March 2003DS2 Sept 2005,
and 3 , in our happy secular
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#8 of 10 Old 11-14-2009, 12:00 AM
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hey its nov. he's writing like the pilgrims did
as for writing mirror image very common w/ his age if he seems to et bothered by you correcting him you know him and if you think it's going to make him want to stop trying dont
but maybe the letters he has trouple w/ you could find some fun words and put them up around the house see if he wants to make funny sentences w/ them
that way he can see them ofen and have the opportunity to write it correctly on his own

maya mama to dd 10,ds 5,ds 21m &15weeks
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#9 of 10 Old 11-14-2009, 10:23 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the opinions!

It makes intuitive sense to me to just be happy that DS is enjoying himself and excited to learn. Then that little voice kicks in, saying that he's going to pay, later on, by ingraining bad habits. I think I read this in HWT... which has just pages and pages (and pages and pages) on teaching strategy.

I think I will try not to make note of errors when he works on his own unless he asks for help. But I'll keep a mental list, and work on the error-prone items in a more organic way (than HWT) at times when he seems amenable to learn.

Today, he pretended to be collecting data about the temperature, and made rows of numbers (temperatures) and they were all mirror images of what they should be (reversed digits, written R-to-L). I had to bite my tongue to keep from telling him... but if I had corrected him it would have really taken away from the bigger picture, where he was doing this cool pretend science experiment collecting data. Ugh, I need to chill out!

aran .......... Mr. aran .......... DS1 .......... DS2
BIL Oct. 1961 - Jun. 2009 taken by cancer
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#10 of 10 Old 11-16-2009, 07:41 PM
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I understand the tongue biting!

I'm totally in the "not to correct boat" at 5. Chances are he'll compare and edit his letters himself in a little bit. Sorta like when they first learn to walk and waddle for a while.

Congrats to your guy on the new skills!

Mama to four ('03, '05, '08 & '11) chicken3.gif
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