A few months back Elisa started to be really interested in writing her name. I tried to encourage her and to help her do it without being too pushy or practice-y about it. She would put like 7 lines on her E, and she would haphazardly write her letters around the paper... in the right order, but not in a line from left to right. Still, that being said, it was amazing to me. I felt like I had a genius child. (I know a lot of kids start to write their names at this age... but you know... mother's pride). Then, just as suddenly as she started, she stopped. She wasn't interested any more. So, though I really wanted to, I tried not to push it. I firmly believe that a three-year-old needs to play... that is her work for now. (I do try to incorporate purposeful learning activities into her day... but only as long as she is interested in doing them.) There will be plenty of time for schoolwork later. Still, I was a little disappointed. Especially when I saw other kids her age writing their names.
I had put this book on hold ages ago at the library. And I got it a couple months after Elisa stopped being interested in writing her name. It was fascinating. One of the things she said was that there are a number of factors that you need to look for to determine that a child is ready to begin learning to write: that the child has chosen a skill hand, ability to hold a pencil correctly, hand strength, hand dexterity, etc. Another thing that she talks about is how large muscles support small muscles... that's why running, jumping, climbing, riding trikes, and all those other things that kids do naturally, are so important. She talked about starting out with the correct posture and the correct ways to write letters, so that later they don't have to go back and relearn things. Anyway, I gleaned all of this from a short perusal. I didn't have the time right then to read the whole book and I had to take it back to the library. But it was fascinating and it made me feel better about my decision not to push Elisa into writing. It seemed to me as I watched her that her hands weren't quite strong enough yet. So we did some extra play with play-doh and waited. And now, I've started thinking that her hand is strong enough. And guess what? Today we did a chalk writing activity and she totally loved it. I wrote various names that she requested in chalk and then she traced them (at first with her finger dipped in water and then with a paintbrush).
Anyway, if this is as fascinating to you as it is to me, and if you have a child at this stage you might want to check out some of the pre-writing activities listed on this post over at Childhood 101. I especially loved this article about hanging on the monkey bars. Happy reading! (and writing!)