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#31 of 36 Old 02-12-2002, 11:04 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Britishmum. I would appreciate any info about writng as well. I know I've picked your brains for a couple of days about reading...so if you need a break I understand. But if you get a chance that would be great.
Lest, you're all wondering how my older children ever made it through school..I did help them, but things have changed since then,,besides I love learning new things too!
Thanks again!

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#32 of 36 Old 02-13-2002, 04:26 AM
 
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Peggy, I'd be delighted to share my thoughts about early writing. It's a subject that fascinates me. I'll describe what happens if a child is not taught to write in a formal way, but helped to develop naturally.

The most important thing is that a child needs to be allowed to continue to believe that he or she can write, even though what they write doesn't look exactly the same as what an adult would write. Sadly, this self belief is often lost when children are instructed too rigidly and not allowed to experiment with print in a developmental way. But I need to be clear that I do not believe that a child should just be 'left to develop' without help - it is the adult's role to facilitate and lead the learning on to the next stage, and to reinforce what has already been learned.

The earliest stage in developmental writing is scribble -once the child has learned how to make marks on paper. The next stage is generally 'reading' their scribble aloud. After scribble and marks on paper generally comes some attempt at symbols, eg rows of o's or dashes or a familiar letter, such as the first letter of the child's name. These symbols willl gradually become more accurately representative of letters, often two or three that are repeated over and over. And gradually the left to right direction and clear lines of print will evolve.

Eventually the letters will begin to be bunched together as 'words'. In time, the first letter of some words will begin to be accurate, especially in a child who learns phonics easily. Most children can identify the first letter of words before the end letter, and the middle letters come last (usually the vowels are the final stage)

Gradually the words become more accurate, and punctuation begins to be used. A whole word learner will often use correct whole words in his or her print rather than follow a phonetic pattern. Often this type of learner will stick to familiar words in his writing as he gradually builds up a written vocabulary, so his writing may be repetitive.

The adult role is to show interest, and give feedback. Feedback should be specific and personalised, not just 'good job' at every attempt, which does not lead to further learning. But of course, the role is not to 'correct' either!

A useful phrase to use is "Oh, you have written cat 'c-a-o-p'. Shall I show you how I write cat?" Then the child can decide if he wants you to give help and show him, or not. Some children will ask you to spell out words for them before trying to write them themselves. I discourage this, but try to do it in partnership - "What do you think cat will start with?" If you spell out every word yourself you end up with a passive partner, not an active learner.

Have lots of writing materials available and do activities such as making little books, reading them back, writing for real purposes, (eg recipes, thank you notes, shopping lists etc). As your child does a drawing, ask if he wants to write about it, or for you to do it if he dictates. Suggest making it into a poster or a card.

If you scribe as he dictates, talk about what you are doing. This is called pole bridging, ie: talking your thoughts aloud. Encourage your child to do the same thing. Adding verbal language to learning reinforces what is being processed.

Most importantly, treat your child like she is already a writer - she is! show interest in what she writes and pay careful attention to what she already knows about print and what you can help her to understand next. Don't underestimate what she can do, point out punctuation to her as you write - not in a formal 'lesson' way, but conversationally, just as you would point out something interesting in a book or as you are out doing errands. She won't fully understand yet, but it will draw her attention. Use correct terminology, 'letter' 'word' 'sentence' etc.

Use fantasy for writing, eg in her play house give her pads of paper to write notes, play post office, or secretaries, or even school! Take what she writes seriously and ask her to read it to you. Point out what she could do to make her writing clearer, "I leave spaces between my words so that they are easier to see, can you do that?"

Obviously, you know your child and know the pace to take things. There will be times when you just read what she has written and use it, don't make every experience an opportunity for instruction. Children vary, some are so aware that their writing is not 'correct' that they ask for input at each stage, others would be put off by too much input so you need to take it slower. Trust your instinct and your knowledge of your child to tell you what pace to set.

I hope that this helps. This is a very quick guide to early writing, there is much more to tell, I will elaborate if you like. You can do some more formal activities too if your child wants to do them - word building and sentence building, but with a young child I tend to take a more developmental approach unless the child asks for more 'instruction'.

And by the way, I use 'he' and 'she' interchangeably, it's habit!
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#33 of 36 Old 02-13-2002, 11:13 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Britishmum, your a peach! Thank you so much for taking the time to post that. I recognize alot of things Molly does in your post. She writes lists for the store. Even though the words all look the same to me she knows what each one says. She does print her name and the other day, on her own, tried copying letters from a book. Some were very good, others she couldn't get. "S" was very hard for her but"g" was not???
Being a dwarf also presents some physical problems with her writing. She has "trident" hand and low miscle tone. (trident being that there is a big space between her middle finger and pointer finger) This makes it hard for her to hold a writing tool in the "traditional" way. Some therapists have said she needs to learn the "right" way to hold a pencil in order to write well. I say whatever is comfortable for her and produces results. Any thoughts on that?
I could write more, but I'll start with that. Thanks so much!

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#34 of 36 Old 02-13-2002, 01:38 PM
 
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Peggy, I'm glad that my post was of help. Regarding letters that children find hard or easy, letters like 's' are often difficult, and I wouldn't worry and let her improve at her own rate. However, if it bothers her that she finds them difficult, you could do some practice with her tracing over your writing, but only if she thinks that is fun.

I am not sure about the physical aspects of pencil grip in this case. Have you experimented with different pencils? With young children with smaller hands I often use a triangular grip that you slip over the pencil so that it sits more comfortably in the hand. My instinct is that you need to encourage the correct grip by getting a writing tool that she finds easier. It is hard to correct an incorrect pencil hold later, and easier to get it right from the outset. However, I wouldn't sacrifice any of her enthusiasm for a correct grip now.

Writing is physically tiring for a young child so keep that in mind. Of course, there are other additional tools that can be used for writing - you scribing for her, using the computer (but carefully limited use, in my opinion), cutting up words and letters on squares of card or paper and making words, using magnetic letters, whiteboards, chalkboards, typewriters etc. And don't forget that writing goes hand in hand with overall language development, so if she 'writes' you a story that is one line long, you can encourage her to elaborate the story verbally while you type it, write it down, or even tape it for her. Then make a book, and you have something to read back the next day!

Personally, I'd get several opinions on the physical aspects for your daughter and seek advice on the best tools for her to use to get the grip comfortable and preferably correct.

Glad to have been of some help! Have lots of fun!
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#35 of 36 Old 02-15-2002, 11:24 AM
 
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Peggy,

Sorry it took me so long to get back to you. We have been feeling like %$#@ on a stick for the past week or so.

Three authors are credited for Teach Your Child to read, the first of which is Siegfried Englemann. Here's a site that describes the book:
http://www.startreading.com/

I have not read all the replies to your post, so if I am repeating something here, or you have already made a decision to use something else, forgive me.

Best of luck, and enjoy the journey. (Even the tough days if at all possible!)
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#36 of 36 Old 02-15-2002, 11:27 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks jen!!!


pegyy (feel better soon!)
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