By Emma Thomas
Everyone else’s child is writing in Kindy but my child isn’t interested? What should I do?
Well the first thing is – don’t panic. Children do not need to be able before they begin formal schooling. Child development is not a race and children all develop along different pathways. If we try to force children to write or engage in formal schooling before they are ready it can actually be detrimental!
As a Kindy teacher (and now a mum!) I have seen first hand how differently all children develop. However, every year I have some families who are concerned that their child isn’t interested in writing or other ‘school’ activities.
It’s great if children can write their own name in Kindergarten (saves me time naming all their pictures) but there is no need for us to be pressuring children to be writing before school.
So what should you do?
There are a number of areas which a child needs to develop BEFORE they begin writing. These are what we focus on in early childhood. As well as developing other skills necessary for school, such as social and emotional skills, independence, perseverance and problem solving skills.
Before children write they need to play! All the skills that children need for formal schooling are best taught through play. For children muscle development moves from large muscles to small muscles. They need to run, jump and lift heavy objects before they can manoeuver a pencil or manage scissors!
In Kindy we work on developing:
- Core Strength – to sit straight, hold themselves up in a chair and maintain concentration.
- Crossing the midline – this is being able to use your arms and legs across your body (think clapping ‘criss cross’ on your knees). Children need this skill to be able to read and write across the page.
- Shoulder and arm strength – best developed by hanging from monkey bars, swinging in trees or digging! This helps children write and stay seated correctly at their desk.
- Wrist strength – to be able to hold a pencil and manoeuver it to form letters.
- Hand and finger strength – for optimal pencil grip and to be able to apply the correct pressure to the page.
We need to work on all of these before children start writing. Everything we do in early childhood builds these skills. Gross motor play outside, such as running, jumping, kicking balls, climbing an obstacle course or working with tools builds the large muscle groups. Fine motor activities like playdough, clay, threading and building develop the muscles in the fingers and hands.
Most children will naturally develop an interest in letters, writing and reading in the year before school. The best way we can support them to develop this natural curiosity is through providing literacy rich environments. Some children won’t show a natural interest and the best way to support them is to make literacy relevant to their lives.
Some things you can do to support all children:
- Let your child see you reading
- Make shopping lists together
- Pont our road signs and shop signs
- Talk about letters of car number plates
- Make birthday cards for family members
- Read, read, read book together
Above all, don’t be worried, surround your children with beautiful words and language and they will absorb it when they are ready.
“If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.”– Albert Einstein