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Pre-schooler's learning to write

(15 Posts)
WittyCakeMeister Thu 29-Sep-16 12:20:07

I'm just having a bit of a moan. What do you think of this....?
I thought I was doing quite well, teaching my DD to recognise her lower-case letters and some of her upper-case, before she starts school (she's nearly 4). I've been doing a little bit of counting and letter writing here and there, with not much pressure.

However, recently I've noticed that a few of her friends are writing shockingly well for their age. Forming letters correctly and writing them quite small as well. They have obviously had lots of practice at home. I mean, it must be DAILY practice. Surely this is not normal for children who have just turned 4? Party invitation cards and thank you cards are practically just written by the children (with no 'dots' to trace over). They are also starting to read simple words and parents are talking about book-reading schemes.

Do they have ninja parents or something?
I also have a one year old (as do some of the other parents) and I can not work out how they find the time to do it. Every time I try to do a focused 1-2-1 task with my older child, the younger one (who hardly has a nap) jeopardises it, or I can't leave him unattended, so can't focus with her.

How much are we expected to do with the children before they start school? It seems to be increasing. In the past, I'm sure children were not expected to do so much at this young age.

AppleAndBlackberry Thu 29-Sep-16 12:33:08

I don't think this is that normal. Being able to write their own name before starting school is fairly common although not usually with correctly formed letters. Knowing some letters is also common, but some children will know nothing. It helps the school if a child can recognise their own name, but they don't expect anything else IME.

ILostItInTheEarlyNineties Thu 29-Sep-16 12:46:15

I wouldn't aspire to that. It's not a sign of high intelligence if a 4 year old can sit and copy letters, it just means that a parent has made them practise over and over.
Let them be children for goodness sake! They start school early enough and it's actually frustrating for teachers if some children are wildly ahead on writing or reading, particularly if they haven't been taught the same guidelines as the school in terms of phonics or handwriting.
Even if a child is ahead when they begin reception, it all levels out by the end of the year.

If they want to learn their name or try to recognise letters then it shouldn't be discouraged but I think 4 year olds learn a hell of a lot more playing, exploring, socialising and running about outside.

Cakescakescakes Thu 29-Sep-16 12:48:13

I hate this kind of hot housing. It doesn't benefit anyone. Kids will spend the next 12+ years learning so I think it's only right to allow them their toddler and preschool years to not have that pressure.

They are wrong smile

LikeASoulWithoutAMind Thu 29-Sep-16 12:49:25

I wouldn't worry. Are you sure the parents aren't holding their hands to write the cards? wink When ds1 was in reception another mum told me she did that!

School will teach them to write. My kids could write their names (ish) when they started school but nothing else and are both towards the top set in English now (yr 6 and yr 8)

Bug28 Thu 29-Sep-16 13:12:36

My DD is 6 and has just gone into yr2. Before she started school she could recognise her own name and often asked what words said, but wasn't learning them or anything, just recognised that letters had meaning. She couldn't do any writing or recognise any letters before she started school.

At the end of year 1 her report said she was above what is expected for her age for reading and writing.

I always took the view that they go to school to learn to read and write. Time at home before school is precious because it doesn't last long and there are so many other more enjoyable things they could be doing that contribute to them growing as a person.

lisaneedsarest Thu 29-Sep-16 13:18:37

Sometimes it depends on the child, DS, couldn't even hold a pen when he started school (could recognise his name but not much else), dd could write her own name and form a fair few letters and number (admittedly not small or neat handwriting but legible), I didn't do anything different with them apart from foster their interests, dd wanted to draw and write and wanted stuff to copy all the time. Ds wanted to climb, run about and play with cars so that's what he did.

lisaneedsarest Thu 29-Sep-16 13:20:28

Forgot to add, by the end of reception they were both at a similar level but dd had neater handwriting, probably because she likes to write and is always coming home with smart and writing that she does at school, ds would still rather kick a ball or climb!

normage Thu 29-Sep-16 13:36:26

WittyCakeMeister, This time with your children is so precious. Enjoy it and don't worry at all about what other children are doing. Your daughter will progress at her own pace and if you encourage each stage, support her at home, and especially read to her as much as possible, she will enjoy learning to read and write. Some children are ready for formal learning at a very early age, others are developing in other ways and will settle to reading and writing later. I was a primary school teacher in the 90's and know what the job entails, so I'm not in any way knocking teachers, but way too much pressure is put on schools by the Government and this cascades down to teachers and children/parents. I home edded my four children until year 3. I know this isn't for everyone and financially, it wasn't the easiest option for us. The main reason I did it was so I could teach them to read and write when they were ready. Interestingly, apart from my Son, who has high functioning asperger's syndrome and was reading fluently at 4(mainly due to his obsession with the Highway Code and railway timetables), my three daughters all became fluent readers with minimal formal teaching, between 6 and 6 and a half. I'm not in any way advocating home education, as I'm aware for lots of people this isn't an option, but would advocate not feeling pressured to push children to read and write before they're ready.

LongDivision Thu 29-Sep-16 13:50:14

I think that because reading & writing look like formal education, and a lot of preschoolers aren't that interested,it may appear that an early reader/writer is being hothoused. Not the case at all for DS, who is very behind in most aspects of his development but LOVES to write letters and words and would 'play' this all day long if he could. He's not at all interested in running around, jumping. climbing and all of those nice healthy skills. So I wouldn't make the assumption that these children are being forced into learning handwriting - they may just like it.

WordGetsAround Thu 29-Sep-16 13:53:14

It sounds like you spend your time more wisely than the other parents. Enjoy this next year before school starts - it goes so so quickly

HJBeans Thu 29-Sep-16 14:01:40

Yes, longdivision, my DS (3) is this way too. He's loved his letters for a long time and I'm not going to force him to play a different way if that's what he's interested in.

Twopots Thu 29-Sep-16 14:31:34

My ds1 started school just able to write his name, my ds2 and dd both started school able to read and write as they copied their older sibling, I didn't 'hot house' my children, some children are more interested in books and writing, some, like ds1, are more into playing out and getting filthy.

KW89 Fri 30-Sep-16 20:57:32

Not all children who can read/write early are being sat down and pressured to do it. My DS has just turned 3 and loves running around, being outside, riding his bike, building, climbing, getting messy etc, but he has also from a very young age been very interested in letters, he is able to read around 30 words, can form the majority of the alphabet correctly (though not small and neat) and loves to write birthday cards out himself (I do sound the harder words out for him) and I have not once sat down to formerly teach him how to read and write, he has always loved books and has picked up words just from reading stories together, at bathtime he often gives me the bath crayons and tells me to write words for him to read! No pressure from me, it's just one of his many interests, so stop making parents whose children can read and write at a young age feel bad, not all of us sit down and force our children to write lines everyday!
OP I have worked in a school for almost 10 years, and can assure you it is not the norm for children to come in reading and writing, your DD is doing absolutely fine! X

Witchend Sun 02-Oct-16 23:02:43

It depends on your child though.
Dd1 was desperately interested in letters. She recognised them all before she was 2yo. She didn't learn them deliberately though. She decided one day she wanted to play on the computer. We only had dial up internet and no games. So she wanted to do what she saw us do-type. So after a couple of minutes just typing randomly she asked to write "mummy". So I said "m for mummy" <point to key> "u for umbrella" <point to key> etc. End of a couple of days where she had done this entirely at her wish, I discovered I didn't need to point to the keys as she knew her letters. She also knew them upper and lower case as they're upper case on the keyboard, lowercase when typed.
She started trying to write them when she was just over 2.6yo and she always liked to do things "right" so she would ask me to do it to show her.
So she was writing beautifully before she was anywhere near 4yo, reading fluently. She didn't know her colours as she wasn't interested in them until she was about 3.6yo and I was beginning to wonder if she was colour-blind. She didn't enjoy colouring-give her a colouring sheet and she'd label all the things in the picture.

Dd2 didn't like to be left out, so because she saw dd1 enjoying it, she was keen to do the same. She didn't go for the typing but loved writing. But she likes the easy way out. So a P would be a circle with a line down it. There was never a point that she sat down and learnt the letters like dd1, I just suddenly found she knew them. She preferred reading to writing and, at 12yo, my problem with her reading is much more stopping her from doing it at the wrong moment!

Ds was only interested in words if it was about planes. Preferably Red Arrows and Concorde. I suspect he may be the only child whose first words to spell were "Red Arrow" "Concorde" and "Sonic Boom". He did not put pen to paper voluntarily until... actually he's 9yo and still wouldn't out of choice. He could write his name before he was 4yo, but that was because he found a use for it (he used to write his name on the paper aeroplanes he made a preschool so he got them to take home).
He loved reading though, as long as it was facts about planes, ww2 or planes and ww2. He was reading adult fact books at 4yo.

My point is none of mine were ever made to sit down and do any of this. Dd1 was the only one who did those exercise type books from Smiths, and that was because she did them out of choice-she'd often buy them with book tokens she was given.
Having had one child whom it interested dd2 tended to follow as she saw her enjoying it and didn't want to miss out. Ds wanted to read as it gave him access to what he wanted to know. He also suffered from bad glue ear, so reading was important to him-he'd follow subtitles.

Now although they have stayed at the top end at school, they're not the top, as other children have moved past them. Early reading is just that. However it gave them a lot of pleasure at a time when they could have been learning the basics, they were reading Little House books etc.

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