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Correct letter formation

(11 Posts)
marialuisa Mon 17-Jan-05 10:50:11

How worried do I need to be that DD (rising 4) has developed her own rather idiosyncratic way of forming letters? She taught herself to write (seemed to be an extension of drawing) about a year ago and her enthusiasm for writing stories etc. comes and goes. She's just moved back into writing mode and we've noticed that her letter formation is bizarre (and neither DH nor I write properly!) and she's now using random capital letters because "they look nicer". The capitals thing doesn't appear to be about ease of production because she opts for R over r IYSWIM.

So, given all the stress on correct letter formation, do I discourage her from writing (which I'm not keen to do because it keeps her occupied for ages!) or just her leave her alone and hope school will sort it out? An added complication is that she starts a new school in April which does things differently to her current school.

SoupDragon Mon 17-Jan-05 10:53:42

Personally I'd leave it until she starts the new school so they can do things according to their way of teaching.

lockets Mon 17-Jan-05 10:55:43

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binkie Mon 17-Jan-05 10:56:07

She's three and she's been writing since she was two? Wow. All I would do is make sure she actually knows the difference between capitals and lower case - ie, she knows that B is a capital and b is lower case - and say, once you are at big school you will have to make sure you show everyone you know which kind of letters to use when. I am sure that a child as bright as yours won't find herself stuck in her private alphabet.

(I'll look out for a new graphic design star in 20 years' time.)

marialuisa Mon 17-Jan-05 11:09:07

She knows the difference between capital and lower case, it's aesthetic preference as far as i can tell.

Have just become slightly paranoid because I actually watched her write yesterday and it's so strange and combined with a pile of bumpf from current school stressing the need to "correct" the kids' letter formation otherwise they're destined to fail and end up illiterate I'm worrying. She gets so absorbed in her "stories" and is outraged if we suggest that maybe she could do her g a bit differently that I'll happily take the easy option!

lockets Mon 17-Jan-05 11:12:40

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binkie Mon 17-Jan-05 11:19:44

Yes, I realised I only responded to half your question. On the formation, I still would let her do it her way until she starts the new school, but have a word with her teacher in advance to explain she'll need a different sort of encouragement from what the other children will need (very few of whom are likely to be able, or want, to do more than scribble their names). (Incidentally I think that "show what you can do" works well as encouragement with the clever ones.)

I think the scary tone of the bumpf is to do with children who don't want to write being belaboured into doing it - if you're learning reluctantly and the wrong way, it's doubly hard if you've then got to learn again. But as I say, I really don't think a keen writer will have much difficulty.

marialuisa Mon 17-Jan-05 11:29:41

OK, I'll stop being neurotic and leave her to write her "newspapers". Most of the "articles" seem to involve aliens so maybe she'll end up working for National Enquirer!

LIZS Mon 17-Jan-05 11:31:12

I think it is really common for them to mix capitals and lower case - whether accidentally or because they prefer the pattern it makes. I doubt anyone would be concerned about it before she goes into Reception but certainly mention it to her new teacher as part of a general chat when you move school. She sounds pretty forward for her age on most counts so this will probably self correct when she is an environment to encourage her to do so.

Ellbell Mon 17-Jan-05 11:44:54

Wow, Marialuisa, you have one quick dd!

My dd is 4.5 and in reception part-time. She can write her name (not an easy one - poor kid, her first name and surname combined involve 20 letters!) but not much else and is much more interested in drawing and so on for now. She also forms her letters strangely - she insists on starting at the bottom rather than at the top. I do try to encourage her to start at the top, but I don't belabour the point, as I don't want to put her off. She is a bit sensitive about 'being wrong' (she's like this with reading too - if she perceives a word as 'hard' (I posted about her mental block with 'said' the other day) she just decides that she can't do it and won't even try) so I feel that praise and encouragement is more important.

I do worry that, because I am a working mum (off sick today - up all night throwing up...!) I don't get much time to help her with such things. When not at school she is with a really excellent childminder. No complaints at all, but the c/m also has my dd2 plus another younger child, so really doesn't have time to do much writing and such like with dd1. I do read all this research about how the children of working parents do worse at school and get massive guilt complexes... Aaargh!

Anyway, I digress (sorry - brain not really in gear!). Marialuisa, IMHO I'd encourage your dd's writing and leave any 'correction' to the school, unless your dd actually asks you how to do a particular letter. You can always prepare her for the transition to school by saying that her teacher might want to teach her a new way of doing some of her letters. My dd's teacher pointed out that nowadays they teach them to do letters with 'tails' on to get them ready for doing joined-up writing (wish someone had done this for me, as I still don't do 'proper' joined-up writing), so you could explain that when she does 'grown-up writing' she'll need to form the letters in a certain way.

Having said that, I was at Uni with a girl who always wrote all her Rs as upper-case... didn't stop her getting a good degree!

Good luck.

Catflap Mon 17-Jan-05 12:26:18

Hi there - as an ex-Reception teacher, I would say at this very, very early stage, leave her to her enjoyment and creativity and let school sort it out. She is far to young to be discouraged and feeling that her efforts are 'wrong' could really turn against her writing and lower her self-esteem. Although there is the argument that longer doing the incorrect thing is longer to correct, she has plenty of time and school will focus on it. Handwriting lessons are regular and she will see that it is something everyonse does - esp the teacher modelling on the board and in books and on displays etc so you will probably find she picks it up effortlessly. Just mention i before she starts or be prepared for ther teacher rbinging it up. I think they'll be too impressed with her rocket start to literacy, though!!

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