Saturday, October 11, 2008
Making writing a natural part of everyday life for the children is very important to me as a teacher. I do this in formal and informal ways.
The physical mechanics of writing require fine motor skills. In the lower elementary years children are refining their fine motor skills. Many of the activities they do everyday help develop these skills; some are obvious such as drawing and cutting, but others might not be as readily apparent such as playing with play dough or building with legos. Even getting ready to go outside takes fine motor skills as zippers are zippered and buttons buttoned. All these activities help strengthen muscles and develop fine motor abilities. Drawing on large upright surfaces such as the chalkboard, or painting at the easel, is also essential. These activities help develop the upper arm strength which is necessary for writing small.
As fine motor skills are developing, children also need to learn the convention of letter formation and good penmanship. For this, SK uses a program called “Hand Writing Without Tears”. This program employs a system of big and small lines and curves to form all the letters of the alphabet. It starts with the children practicing on small chalkboards and then moves into workbooks. The children received their workbooks last week. We work in these books about twice a week for approximately10 minutes. Surprisingly, the children can’t wait to practice their penmanship.
The children are also learning the function of writing as a means to communicate. On a daily basis, writing materials are available to the children so they can incorporate drawing and writing into their activities and play. For example, the children have been writing on the small dry erase board to take orders for their restaurant.
Every morning the children write in journals. We started the year with blank paper and the children drew pictures to convey their thoughts. The journals entries can depict something that really happened or something from their imagination. In October, the children started using paper that has a place for a picture and lines for “writing”. At first, many children will just write their names or make lines on the page to represent letters; other children use inventive and conventional spelling to put their ideas on paper.
During journal writing time, I encourage children to spell things on their own. It is more important that the children get their ideas down on the page rather than spelling words the “correct” way. By using "inventive spelling", children sound out the word by writing whatever they hear. In the beginning, the children often just hear the consonants. For example, they will write “plz” for please. As time goes on, they will add more letters including vowels. If there is a word a child consistently uses and misspells, I will show the conventional spelling so the misspelled version does not become ingrained.
Here are a few suggestions of writing activities you can do at home with your child:
-Have them help you make shopping lists
-Write up coming events on a calendar
-Write a note to a friend or relative