February 17, 2017

Teaching your child how to write

Quite often I hear many parents talking about how uninterested their child is to write something that is asked to. Parents have tried many ways and failed to light up that passion of writing in their child.

How can we teach the child to write?

At around 4 years of age, children will be physically and cognitively prepared to learn and implement a new way to express themselves, that is, by writing. Before pushing your child to pick up the pen and write an alphabet, rewind your memory of how her play time was spent until this age.

Was she handed over the gadget more frequently than a pen and paper?

Was she exposed to video time more than being read from books?

Was she exposed to watching stories on TV/tabs rather than being depicted on paper?

Was she, when months old, shown your flashy phone first rather than drawings on paper?

Did you silence her tantrums by always handing over smart phones?

Was she exposed to colours on the smart device rather than the various media of introducing colours, water colours, crayons, colour pencils, sketch pens, glitter colours, acrylic colours etc.?

Was she provided with ample play activities that make her develop her fine motor skills which enable her to hold the pencil and curve through artistically or was she just tapping her finger on the smart devices?

Swiping on the gadget will not teach writing. Clicking on the correct colour on the smart screen will not teach the way to hold a colour pencil and drawing. Children learn from what parents do and what parents show them most of the time that is spent together.

The first step to begin writing is to develop a passion for making art by holding a tool with the fingers. For the child to do this, she should first develop love for art, for making shapes, for simply putting dots, joining the dots to make shapes, drawing lines, drawing curves, simply making a line by joining two dots, For the child to develop love for all this, she has to see the parent do all this. Where is the time for this gen parent to sit with child and show beautiful things on paper? Most of the time child is with parent, all she notices is the usage of smart devices.

When can we teach the child to write?

Right from when the child is months old when she just started sitting on her own, there are plethora of things that could be shown to her. There is just no limit to what you can teach a child. All you need is the passion to teach and learn continuously. On another note, even before the child begins to sit, there are various things that could be taught. Sitting is just a milestone where the child reaches to a level of having a comfortable view alongside the parent. Show coloured papers, coloured tools, coloured pencils and pens to your child. Begin drawing simple objects around the house. Draw a spoon, fork, just lines, shapes, sun, moon, cartoons and many more. Draw, draw and draw more. I clearly remember how much I used to draw since the time DD1 was months old. There are tons of used books out of which I have saved the first one as a keepsake. You will gradually reach the stage where you start drawing out the story that your child just asked you to narrate. Show your child how we can use the existing tools to convert our thoughts to paper. Parenting is the key factor. Developing an interest takes considerable amount of time and effort and delivering your job just mechanically does no good. Do it for the love of doing it. Teach your child for the love for your child and for the love of teaching your child. Sit with your child and show her the entire world of drawing right from her early days. If you had mostly given the gadget to her until 3 or 3.5 years and always said no if she picked a pen for the fear of her making mess with it, and suddenly, out of nowhere, ask her to write A on the paper, she simply CANNOT do it. Any learning needs a bit of preparation, both, mentally and physically, not to forget, emotionally as well i.e., there has to be love for writing. Parent needs to inculcate love for doing things by SITTING with the child and doing it themselves.

When can the child write alphabets and numbers?

Most importantly, do not rush. As mentioned earlier, the child must first be exposed to drawing lines and making shapes. Then gradually, move to tracing. Tracing may not directly be done with pen on paper. Start with interesting ways. Ask the child to trace with paint brush. You could make the child trace in sand or some flour. Make shapes of alphabets and numbers with long cloth on floor and ask your child to walk over it. Explain what shape each alphabet is, like A has two slanting lines and a sleeping line. Introduce stamping with alphabets and numbers. Last comes, writing an alphabet or number on the paper. Until this stage, the child is only falling in love with writing. Make the journey enjoyable. Do not always stress on the outcome.

However the journey is or was, child will definitely pick to writing in her own time. Give them ample time. Do not use shame words or hurt them. Encourage your child. Guide your child. 

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