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Writing skills for five year olds

Discussion in 'Early Years' started by inq, Mar 20, 2011.

  1. inq


    I wasn't for 1 instance suggesting labelling a child who did not put pressure on paper as special needs. I didn't know you had taught him to press lightly onto the paper as your original post hadn't mentioned this. Hypermobility is a physical problem not a learning difficulty and much can be done to help it. I thought it was being perceived as a problem and I was just offering a suggestion that would help produce writing whilst not requiring any extra pressure to be used. I'm sorry if I in any way gave the impression I was trying to label a child.
  2. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    I don't think you need to feel at all guilty inq the school has raised a concern which you tried to explain and help with.
    For what it's worth if the school are concerned enough to mention it I think you should take it seriously jabed unless you want us all to say it isn't a problem in a not quite 5 year old (which isn't true)
  3. I have to disagree with the first part of Msz and yet agree with her recommendation. It is not a problem, the child is not yet 5. In many countries and even UK settings this would not be problem (as you have described it). Where children begin later these formal skills are developed on the back of already developed motor skills. The obvious first thought is for more amd more opportunities to draw, scribble, doodle, write and mark make with chalk, pencils paint etc.. the usual early years stuff. However it is very early, the child is very young, it is only a problem in the artificial, over anxious and stilted, tilted world of our early years hothouses. Neither do I think it is to do with whiteboards which allowed Debbie a well intentioned, but (with respect Debbie) maybe not so relevant in this case (although pertinant and relevant generally), rant !.

    Slightly more worrying might be the statement that 'he has been told to sit there and do as he is told'. Which might suggest he may be really quite young, very active and doing his best to conform to an early writing program which is not really that well matched to his age and stage of development. Again a problem as old as the hills wherever we have boys in early years education settings. He may well have been able to do many things earlier and credit to the enabling home for that- does the home do the same wtih is drawing I wonder. Mark -making, symbolising and drawing are so much part of early childhood and a child's thinking and being that I wonder - hope not, think not but wonder- if he has achieved early pencil skills without having had the meandering exploration with drawing that underpins this?

    so for me, the conclusion is; keep it in perspective, don't worry, give him time, maybe give him more opportunity for a wider range of experiences, show by genuine pleasure in his achievments that he is doing just fine. What is to follow, will follow appropriately in its proper time.
  4. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    <h4>Sorry yohanalicante but if a child can't achieve enough pressure when making a mark there is a phyical problem which needs addressing
  5. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    I usually recommend monkey bars as the best course of action
  6. inq


    If youinalicante (sorry if I'm remembered user name incorrectly), you think I should feel guilty for making my suggestion then I'm sorry I don't. Thank you Msz for your comments.

    I do agree that plenty of mark making, doodling and colouring are to be encouraged in young children and although impressed that a 3 (if I remember correctly) year old can write his name and address it is not the be all and end all of writing.
    The OP has come onto a teaching website and i am presuming is a well meaning mum who wants the best for her child who is obviously well trained, I gave what I hoped to be a helpful reply. I'm sorry if it isn't, I don't feel guilty, I'll stick to Primary in future.
  7. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    inq he is almost 5 (and it's still impressive he can write his name and address ) but I would have the same concerns his teacher clearly has if he struggles to use adequate pressure.
    Please don't be put off
  8. ermm Msz, the poster did not say that he had difficulty, she says he has ben writing his name and address legibly since three (if I remember correctly) which makes it sound to me as if the school is being over demanding, as for monkey bars - great, child friendly, lovely park and playground stuff - wouldn't most children have had those experiences though? Perhaps we agree in many ways but I am not convinced - despite your bold print- that there is a problem here worth flagging up and providing remedial activities for. Playdough, plasticine, clay, lego, small construction etc are all motor grip support also. Climbing and large blocks too- but hey aren't we here describng an early years (foundation stage) setting with a child not yet five who should have access to all these above mentioned experiences and more?

    So no, for me I would think more widely as to what (if) there might be a problem and for myself I always try to remember that what constitutes a problem may be the nature of what is being asked, not this young child. My intial reading of the poster seemed she was left in the dark and wondering what the teacher and the school are on about. You have taken the school line but I am sceptical as the pressure on demonstrable and measureable achievement is now great in many early years settings - if you think otherwise then we shall disagree. We are not talking here about a child without these early graphics experiences at all, without interested parents, quite the reverse and so I think you are MISTAKEN in assuming the child has a problem. The school may well have.

    as for the poster from primary, everyone is welcome, sorry if you felt some kind of criticism, I think there is a strong protective streak in early years teachers, which makes us growl in warning, mine might be a bit too strong sorry-but we don't mean it really. Well I don't. These are all only opinions after all. Your is as valid as anyone's.
  9. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    the poster said the teacher was concerned about his ability to myes she said she had taught him to form letters and write but the school was concerned about pressure ... could it be mum has been over zealous teaching a 3 year old to write his name and address when he doesn't have upper body stability and wrist and finger strength?
  10. hmm Msz, thanks for the knock about with this ball here in the yard-how by the way do you get the quotes of others into your reply in these threads ? I quite agree with the last part of what you say as beiing a possible interpretation. What is the ability to myes? However my main point is not to place too much emphasis on what is not being achieved at so young an age, but the reverse, --what is . Your posts are well measured, thoughtful and often backed up the relevant references to documents which help everyone to see what is obligatory as opposed to merely what is desired by certain school managements or LEA's so I don't want to disagree for the sake of it.

    However in this case I don't think it is so helpful to say so emphatically that there is a definite problem, we have to bear in mind the wider context of children aged up to five and not the EYFS goals which are not universally applicable as defintive measurements of children's progress and development. Merely outlines of certain steps in-line with having had certain experiences. The lack or otherwise of demonstrating 'achievment' is not in itself indicative of a 'problem' as more widely understood by parents who may get uneccessarily worried and inadvertently put even more focus on the need to achieve.
  11. Lots of things to take into consideration. Thank you all for the wise words. I will take them under consideration. However, not to mislead you
    a) I am male
    b) I am a teacher ( mathematics) in a senior school. I work in an independent school although he currently attends the local village school. SWMBO feels it is better because it is nearer and he is so young.
    c) Yes I suppose it could be said we ( SWMBO and I) do not follow modern practice. To be honest until I saw this thread I wasn't aware of many of the things said.
    d) We have taught him to draw and write and read all before he went to school. I did it the old way. Taught the alphabet by visual and phonic means. Taught him to sound words and put them together. We read a lot in our house . Taught him to write by putting words on paper and first getting him to go over them and then later copy them etc. The same with drawing and painting. all of this on paper with crayons , felt tips and pencils and he paints. He picked up both quite readily without being forced.
    e) I can relate to something of the idea that it might be considered he is somehow double jointed ( although he is not) he has the family trait of what I call a musical hand(s). That is long fingers and a thumb that splays widely. We also have him put to the piano to develop this. That should strengthen his fingers anyway. Most of both our families play piano and he also play chess with me and he rides (horses) .
    I had not considered this a problem. I had never heard of this idea of not putting enough pressure on in his writing. His writing is quite legible and it is clear on paper. It has pressure, so I was at a loss. The teacher would not explain.
    However, I didn't know that schools don't let children sit at tables with chairs and write on paper now. We (I) have always sat him at my desk in my study and he writes on paper.
    The reason I inquired was for information and you have given much of that Thanks. Food for thought.
  12. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    believe me EYFS goals did not cross my mind when I posted my reply, it was based purely on the OPs post
    which suggests to me he has been asked to write before he is physically able (apparently by mum not school) and the teacher sees it as a problem for him. If this child was in my class I would be suggesting to mum things like monkey bars, wheel barrow walking, commando crawling, crab walking and not writing! nothing to do with EYFS or goals purely about supporting a young child's appropriate physical development
  13. inky

    inky Lead commenter

    Oh the myth of the long fingered pianist!

    My pianist father had square, strong hands. He played the piano and organ to a very high standard but was never 'put to it' - what an alarming idea!
  14. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    Fine Motor Skills
    Things to remember:
    Upright working surfaces promote fine motor skills. Examples of these are: vertical
    chalkboards; easels for painting; flannel boards; lite bright; magnet boards (or
    fridge); windows and mirrors; white boards, etc. Children can also make sticker
    pictures; do rubber ink-stamping; use reuseable stickers to make pictures; complete
    puzzles with thick knobs; use magna-doodle and etch-a-sketch as well. The benefits
    for these include: having the child's wrist positioned to develop good thumb
    movements; they help develop good fine motor muscles; the child is using the arm
    and shoulder muscles.
    Fine Motor Activities
    Moulding and rolling play dough into balls - using the palms of the
    hands facing each other and with fingers curled slightly towards the palm.
    Rolling play dough into tiny balls (peas) using only the finger tips.
    Using pegs or toothpicks to make designs in play dough.
    Cutting play dough with a plastic knife or with a pizza wheel by holding
    the implement in a diagonal volar grasp.
    Tearing newspaper into strips and then crumpling them into balls. Use
    to stuff scarecrow or other art creation.
    Scrunching up 1 sheet of newspaper in one hand. This is a super
    strength builder.
    Using a plant sprayer to spray plants, (indoors, outdoors) to spray snow
    (mix food colouring with water so that the snow can be painted), or melt
    "monsters". (Draw monster pictures with markers and the colours will run
    when sprayed.)

    Picking up objects using large tweezers such as those found in the
    "Bedbugs" game. This can be adapted by picking up Cheerios, small cubes,
    small marshmallows, pennies, etc., in counting games.
    Shaking dice by cupping the hands together, forming an empty air space
    between the palms.
    Using small-sized screwdrivers like those found in an erector set.
    Lacing and sewing activities such as stringing beads, Cheerios,
    macaroni, etc.
    Using eye droppers to "pick up" coloured water for colour mixing or
    to make artistic designs on paper.
    Rolling small balls out of tissue paper, then gluing the balls onto
    construction paper to form pictures or designs.
    Turning over cards, coins, checkers, or buttons, without bringing them to
    the edge of the table.
    Making pictures using stickers or self-sticking paper reinforcements.
    Playing games with the "puppet fingers" -the thumb, index, and middle
    fingers. At circle time have each child's puppet fingers tell about what
    happened over the weekend, or use them in songs and finger plays.
    Place a variety of forms (eg. blocks, felt, paper, string, yarn, cereal,
    cotton) on outlines
    Match shapes, colour, or pictures to a page and paste them within the

    Self-Care Skills
    Fastening Snaps
    Using a screwdriver
    Locking and unlocking a door
    Winding a clock
    Opening and closing jars
    Rolling out dough or other simple cooking activities
    Washing plastic dishes

    Sweeping the floor
    Scissor Activities
    When scissors are held correctly, and when they fit a child's hand well, cutting
    activities will exercise the very same muscles which are needed to manipulate a pencil
    in a mature tripod grasp. The correct scissor position is with the thumb and middle
    finger in the handles of the scissors, the index finger on the outside of the handle to
    stabilize, with fingers four and five curled into the palm.
    Cutting junk mail, particularly the kind of paper used in magazine
    subscription cards.
    Making fringe on the edge of a piece of construction paper.
    Cutting play dough or clay with scissors.
    Cutting straws or shredded paper.
    Use a thick black line to guide cutting the following:
    A fringe from a piece of paper
    Cut off corners of a piece of paper
    Cut along curved lines
    Cut lines with a variety of angles

    Cut figures with curves and angles
    Sensory Activities
    The following activities ought to be done frequently to increase postural muscle
    strength and endurance. These activities also strengthen the child's awareness of
    his/her hands.
    Wheelbarrow walking, crab walking
    Clapping games (loud/quiet, on knees together, etc.)
    Catching (clapping) bubbles between hands
    Pulling off pieces of thera-putty with individual fingers and thumb
    Drawing in a tactile medium such as wet sand, salt, rice, or "goop".
    Make "goop" by adding water to cornstarch until you have a mixture similar
    in consistency to toothpaste. The "drag" of this mixture provides feedback to
    the muscle and joint receptors, thus facilitating visual motor control.
    Picking out small objects like pegs, beads, coins, etc., from a tray of salt,
    sand, rice, or putty. Try it with eyes closed too. This helps develop sensory
    awareness in the hands.
    Midline Crossing
    Establishment of hand dominance is still developing at this point. The following
    activities will facilitate midline crossing:
    Encourage reaching across the body for materials with each hand. It
    may be necessary to engage the other hand in an activity to prevent
    switching hands at midline.

    Refrain specifically from discouraging a child from using the left hand
    for any activity. Allow for the natural development of hand dominance by
    presenting activities at midline, and allowing the child to choose freely.
    Start making the child aware of the left and right sides of his body
    through spontaneous comments like, "kick the ball with your right leg." Play
    imitation posture games like "Simon Says" with across the body movements.
    When painting at easel, encourage the child to paint a continuous line
    across the entire paper- also from diagonal to diagonal.

    Activities To Develop Handwriting Skills
    There are significant prerequisites for printing skills that begin in infancy and
    continue to emerge through the preschool years. The following activities support and
    promote fine motor and visual motor development:
    Body Stability
    The joints of the body need to be stable before the hands can be free to focus on
    specific skilled fine motor tasks.
    Wheelbarrow walking, crab walking, and wall push-ups.
    Toys: Orbiter, silly putty, and monkey bars on the playground.
    Fine Motor Skills
    When a certain amount of body stability has developed, the hands and fingers begin
    to work on movements of dexterity and isolation as well as different kinds of grasps.
    Children will develop fine motor skills best when they work on a VERTICAL or near
    vertical surface as much as possible. In particular, the wrist must be in extension.
    (Bent back in the direction of the hand)
    Attach a large piece of drawing paper to the wall. Have the child use a
    large marker and try the following exercises to develop visual motor
    skills:Make an outline of a one at a time. Have the child trace over your line
    from left to right, or from top to bottom. Trace each figure at least 10 times .
    Then have the child draw the figure next to your model several times.
    Play connect the dots. Again make sure the child's strokes connect dots
    fromleft to right, and from top to bottom.
    Trace around stencils - the non-dominant hand should hold the stencil
    flat and stable against the paper, while the dominant hand pushes the pencil
    firmly against the edge of the stencil. The stencil must be held firmly.
    Attach a large piece of felt to the wall, or use a felt board. The child
    can use felt shapes to make pictures. Magnetic boards can be used the same
    Have the child work on a chalkboard, using chalk instead of a marker.
    Do the same kinds of tracing and modeling activities as suggested above.

    Paint at an easel. Some of the modeling activities as suggested above
    can be done at the easel.
    Magna Doodle- turn it upside down so that the erasing lever is on the
    . Experiment making vertical, horizontal, and parallel lines.

  15. inky

    inky Lead commenter

    Oh Msz, that wonderful list of yours - I hope Jabed takes advantage of it.
  16. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    Hand Pushes
    You need: Just your hands
    How to do it:
    A great shoulder exercise for kids to practice before commencing a handwriting task. Ask your child to copy you as you demonstrate: place your palms together, with elbows out and forearms held horizontally as in the photo. Now push your hands together as hard as you can and hold for 5 seconds &ndash; you should feel all the muscles around your shoulder girdle contract. Repeat a few times. Encourage your fidgety child to do this exercise if he loses focus in a writing lesson.
  17. I am sorry that you find it alarming. In our family we start young. We always have. I suppose that is cultural. Whatever your belief about the hand myth, the fact remains it is a genetic trait to have this kind of hand. I have it. His mother ( an accomplished musician ) has it .
  18. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    Jabed listen to your son's teacher ...
  19. Anonymous

    Anonymous New commenter

    You sure you're not Rumpole of the Bailey?
  20. Actually I am concerned at listening to my sons teacher. She is the same person who told me he lacked general knowledge and language skills because she asked him about football and he couldn't answer her. This it seems was some bench mark criteria of assessment for her. In my family football is never discussed and we don't know anything about it, so neither does he. I play cricket in the summer. I watch rugby. We go to the races and he knows about horses and racing and he even knows about motor racing as I once did that in my youth and am still interested in it.
    I am fast coming to the conclusion that sending him into state school is a mistake and whilst prep is 12 miles away and he is still a babe, I am inclined to move him as soon as possible after Easter, if not in the next two weeks. After all he goes into year 1 in September.
    What makes anyone here think we have somehow neglected to teach our child to care for himself ( dress, fasten buttons etc). What makes you think he does not have play doh and other items in his play chest? That he doesn't have swings and other items in the garden? He is barely five. He has lots of experiences he has yet to perfect. I do not see as making one an issue is helping. He writes and he reads and he is articulate and numerate. What more do you want academically at his age? ?
    I had not come here and asked for advice to end up saying that. I was appalled though at the thought that he is in school with no table to write on or a chair to sit at. That he must write on the floor. ( I asked him and confirmed this).
    I think there may be a problem. Its in the difference between what we do as a family and what the school seems to think he should be doing.
    But thank you for opening my eyes as to what goes on in early years.

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