From doodles and scribbles to script

From doodles and scribbles to script

 Parents and teachers should wait till a child is ready to write, says Mary Chelladurai .

Listen to this interesting dialogue between two young mothers of toddlers who attend the same pre-school. “I’ve noticed that your daughter can write her name, or at least make some letters, but my son hasn’t gotten past scribbling yet. Is he behind?” To this the other mother says, the pre-school does not care to teach her to write. But, I have made her write, she used to cry but now she is ok... Is this mother teaching her child writing before the toddler is even ready? Let’s pause to look at all the past generations. In all these reading and writing was a mystery to most children until they were around the age of five or six.  But, today parents and schools are thrusting pencils and notebooks to a toddler, even before the child is ready to write. Yes, all of us will agree that today’s children are exposed to more information and a greater variety of experiences than the children of the past; this does not anyway guarantee that the child’s developmental timetable is altered drastically. If children do not have the opportunity to talk about and reflect upon their experiences, they are not likely to learn to read or write from them. Even though, we are moving towards a society that is driven by keyboards. We all  will accept that  writing  is a key part of learning to read and communicate, In fact, experts think that developing writing skills reinforces reading skills and vice versa.  But listen, introducing the skills of writing must go hand in hand with the child’s age, growth, development and the signs of readiness.

 As parents and teachers, let us all remind ourselves that writing is the most unique and complex tasks that we as humans engage in. As we all will agree that the basic skill needed to write involves both motor and critical-thinking skills.  It needs the basic coordination skill to hold the crayon, keep the paper still, and apply pressure to make a mark on the paper.  Early childhood specialists suggest that ideally, the first materials used for writing should not be markers and pencils but materials that allow children to strengthen the muscles in their hands that are needed to properly hold writing implements. Further Studies have reiterated that before toddlers are able to write, they go through certain stages of readiness. Let me list the signs of readiness:
The first sign is exhibited by the instinctively and random scribbling movements; during this time a child has joy in scribbling unconnected lines, which have no directions or any planning.

The next step is the wilful scribble; almost all toddlers of nursery age have a strong desire to scribble. If they are not allowed to do so, they will scribble on walls, on the floor or on books, anywhere and everywhere, where they find smooth surfaces.
The other step is the repetitive but controlled scribble:  These scribbles often convey a message. For example, a toddler of three plus or four years may draw something and say “I have drawn the cow eating grass, or this letter is to my father.  It is interesting to note that from this stage on, most children show more interest in the written word, with this, the desire to write also increases.  All this stages require us as to introduce large unlined papers and thick crayons or pencils. Please do not confine them to writing on note books.

By the time the child is crossing the threshold of early childhood which is almost four plus to five years; the formal writing skills slowly emerge, though writing ‘well’ takes years to complete.   Let me highlight the most important check list for teachers and parents to be aware of, before introducing  the  child to formal letters and words:
The child clearly shows her/ his hand preference, either right or left.
The dexterity in finger and wrist movements  is developed,  the child’s  small muscles  development are seen through observing the manipulative play or activity the child engages herself/himself.  

The child is able to follow a left to right direction referred to as laterality i.e. writing left to right.

The child shows awareness of size, shape and of spatial relationships. This is evident when the child is drawing or is playing with building blocks,
The child is able to follow instructions, it is ready for ‘concept understanding’   it understands words like large, shorter, round The child is able to hold the writing tool in a relaxed and comfortable manner.

The child is able to recognise his/her own name and a few other words, and the child is aware that writing conveys a thought. Writing is triggered with the child’s various experiences, interests, emotional, physical and intellectual maturity.    

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