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AIBU?

Help me help my 4 year old

57 replies

carwas · 28/01/2024 09:08

My just turned 4 year old can't write her name yet.

She's starting to learn phonics at nursery, which is great.

I really want to support her in learning to write her name. She likes colouring and drawing a lot.

I was speaking to one of the other mums in my DD's class who said that ' she finally got her DD to write her name properly a couple of months back ' and it took ' a lot of work '.

I've also tried to encourage my DD to write her name but she gets really annoyed and stubborn and doesn't want to do stuff if you try to push her ( even if we do it in a fun way ). We really encourage her and praise whatever she does do.

My husband says I need to spend more time helping her write her and the reason she can't is because I haven't bothered. But I have tried, I just notice she gets frustrated and doesn't want to do it. Maybe I'm trying to support her the wrong way ?

But the fact this other mum said she really had to push for her DD to finally be able to write it, made me think. Because I literally can't push my DD or she gives up. I'm worried I don't know how to help her because she shuts down a bit when I do ' try '. I had just left trying to help her write her name and instead encourage her to do colouring in with pencils and I've bought lots of things to help strengthen her muscles. Like plasticine and different games to help her strengthen her muscles basically.

Lots of the mums in DD's school say their children can already read and write sentences and they're 3 and a half - 4 years old. It's stressing me out that I'm not doing enough for her. But when I try, she doesn't want to do it.

OP posts:
Talkwhilstyouwalk · 28/01/2024 09:11

I honestly wouldn't worry about this. She's very young! Get the play doh out, and other activities to strengthen hand muscles and wait until she's ready....

TeaKitten · 28/01/2024 09:11

I’d say relax and forget about it for a while. She’s 8 months away from starting school, she doesn’t need to be able to write her name yet. Playdoh is great and drawing and practicing for fun is good too. But plenty of kids can’t write their name at that age and it’s fine. Plenty of mums lie too. Is her name short and easy?

carwas · 28/01/2024 09:13

TeaKitten · 28/01/2024 09:11

I’d say relax and forget about it for a while. She’s 8 months away from starting school, she doesn’t need to be able to write her name yet. Playdoh is great and drawing and practicing for fun is good too. But plenty of kids can’t write their name at that age and it’s fine. Plenty of mums lie too. Is her name short and easy?

Yeah it's not too long. She can draw a stick figure and stuff like that.

She's also enjoying phonics.

OP posts:
Doppelgangers · 28/01/2024 09:15

Just let her play and she will learn eventually. She's still so small and school is months away. Play with play dough, use scissors, help her with other more important skills like hanging up her coat and recognising her name.

Also the parents in your child's class are likely lying. In a decade of teaching I've met very few children reading at 3 and probably less than 10 who could read and write sentences at 3.5.

mynameiscalypso · 28/01/2024 09:15

Don't worry at all. My DS is in Reception and a lot, if not most, children couldn't write their names when they started. They do it a lot eg every morning they have to write their own names on a whiteboard as a 'register'. All but one child is doing it perfectly now. The really important thing is fine motor skills. My DS is a bit rubbish at writing because he has little interest in colouring/drawing/painting so has needed to build up a bit of dexterity. Sounds like you're doing a grand job.

ColdButSunny · 28/01/2024 09:16

It's fine OP. My DD couldn't write her name when she started school and I was getting a bit worried (as my DS could at that age). She picked it up quickly after starting school and she's now 16yo and doing really well in school (predicted high GCSE grades). Honestly it doesn't matter in the long term.

TeaKitten · 28/01/2024 09:16

Then just relax and keep playing with her. She’s suppose to learn through play at this age and if she still can’t do her name by the time she gets to school, they will help her. It’s not a skill she needs right now. Those mums telling you their child can read and write sentences at 3 are most likely full of crap, but that’s parenting for you. There’s always someone who’s child is magically advanced for their age and doing more than yours.

2dogsandabudgie · 28/01/2024 09:17

I really wouldn't worry. My daughter started school at 4 and she couldn't write her name, some of the children were able to some weren't. I remember they were given a writing book where they could draw a picture and then write about it. My daughter would "write" but there were no actual words it was just squiggles. The teacher said that was normal at that age and it was to get them used to holding a pencil and controlling it. It was all very relaxed.

Beansandcheesearegood · 28/01/2024 09:17

You are doing good enough. This sounds like maybe dad should be doing the name writing as it seems a priority to him and you carry on with the colouring, playdoh etc. ? Don't fall into the idea that your dd development and achievements are on you. She has 2 parents and she will also move at her own pace.

Does she recognise her name?
She's so little don't worry, it all evens out I promise, children writing at 3.5 are probably struggling in another area and in a few years you won't be able to tell who learnt to write first.

Try whiteboards- dots/ dashes to join up to make her name, practise first letter of name in rainbow colours to make a picture, do her name in bubble writing, she colours it in and frame it in her room- more she sees it more likely to want to copy. Do name or first letter in flour on a tray, gloop, outside with water and a stick, shaving foam and finger etc. Do lots of other drawings too then you or dad do it and she copy's.
Does she hold pen correctly?

Snowdropsarecoming · 28/01/2024 09:18

She is too young. If she was interested then I would say go ahead but she isn’t so focus on pre writing skills - fine AND gross motor skills are essential. Take her to the park/soft play and play with some playdoh.

carwas · 28/01/2024 09:18

Doppelgangers · 28/01/2024 09:15

Just let her play and she will learn eventually. She's still so small and school is months away. Play with play dough, use scissors, help her with other more important skills like hanging up her coat and recognising her name.

Also the parents in your child's class are likely lying. In a decade of teaching I've met very few children reading at 3 and probably less than 10 who could read and write sentences at 3.5.

I did say wow that's early to be reading and the mum was like ' is it ? '.. like she didn't even know it was really early for a child to read at 3 and a half. Which made me think ' omg, am I on the wrong time line here ? '.

I just try to think that it's a marathon and not a race. I don't want to push my DD if she's not having fun with it.

My husband doesn't help either, he says we don't try ' hard ' enough and just need to ' sit her down.. but it doesn't work like that for her. There's no pushing her if she doesn't want to do something.

OP posts:
Trainstrike · 28/01/2024 09:18

Our school don't start formal phonics teaching until Year 1, I certainly wouldn't be worrying about a Nursery child!

PonyPatter44 · 28/01/2024 09:18

Vanishingly few 3 year olds can write in sentences, so I think the other mums are being a bit economical with the truth there. I think you're doing all the right things in developing her manual dexterity and fine motor skills. She'll be fine, don't measure her by her peers.

Patchworksack · 28/01/2024 09:18

Trying to force her into some sort of formal learning will not help. When she starts school they will start from the beginning with phonics and letter formation. Being able to recognise her name would be helpful (for finding peg etc though they often have a picture as well)so I’d have her name on her bedroom door, maybe get a big alphabet floor puzzle. It sounds like you are already doing lots of fine motor activities which is great - you want manipulating small objects (Lego, threading beads etc) and mark making with crayons, painting. Big gross motor movements also useful - in the summer paint a fence with water and a big brush. Is she school ready otherwise? Can she dress herself, manage the toilet alone, follow simple instructions? If you listen to some parents their child is already halfway through a phd…..

BendingSpoons · 28/01/2024 09:19

Our primary school talks a lot about what you can do to build muscle strength for writing, which it sounds like you are doing: playdough/plasticine, threading, holding pencils for colouring, even hanging on the monkey bars for building arm strength. My DS often refuses things he finds hard. I would just leave it for now. As a PP said, they had to write their name every day in Reception.

Lifebeganat50 · 28/01/2024 09:20

Let her be. She’s very young. Step away from the name writing, and work on her fine motor skills in other ways

ColdButSunny · 28/01/2024 09:20

Tell your husband that he's welcome to do it with her if he wants! But he doesn't get to tell you to do it.

carwas · 28/01/2024 09:21

Beansandcheesearegood · 28/01/2024 09:17

You are doing good enough. This sounds like maybe dad should be doing the name writing as it seems a priority to him and you carry on with the colouring, playdoh etc. ? Don't fall into the idea that your dd development and achievements are on you. She has 2 parents and she will also move at her own pace.

Does she recognise her name?
She's so little don't worry, it all evens out I promise, children writing at 3.5 are probably struggling in another area and in a few years you won't be able to tell who learnt to write first.

Try whiteboards- dots/ dashes to join up to make her name, practise first letter of name in rainbow colours to make a picture, do her name in bubble writing, she colours it in and frame it in her room- more she sees it more likely to want to copy. Do name or first letter in flour on a tray, gloop, outside with water and a stick, shaving foam and finger etc. Do lots of other drawings too then you or dad do it and she copy's.
Does she hold pen correctly?

She recognises her name when it's written down and also when I say it phonetically.

She does hold the pen correctly.

OP posts:
Onelifeonly · 28/01/2024 09:23

OK stop comparing your child to others. Yes I know it's tempting but every child is an individual and will have different aptitudes, skills and attitudes. Nagging at her could turn her off wanting to learn to write.

I've been a primary teacher for ever and they DO all learn to write their names eventually! But the physical act can be very hard for some. For others they may not be conceptualising what the shapes mean yet. Be encouraging but keep it light. Don't work hard on it or you may put her off learning or make her see it as a massive source of stress.

Andbreatheee · 28/01/2024 09:24

Oh OP deep breaths and give yourself a break! It is NOT because you 'haven't bothered'. She's still really young, I'm a primary 1 teacher (so teach 4-6 yr olds) and I have MANY who can't write their names. I'd also be very surprised if every parent was being totally truthful about their 3.5 year old writing sentences and reading - that would be extraordinarily young. In a new class of 25 each year, I maybe have 1 or 2 children who start school reading, for the overwhelming majority we start at the beginning, and you'd be amazed how quickly they catch the readers up! Early to read and write doesn't always mean that child will maintain the rate of progression. Children develop at different paces - periods of massive growth and then plateauing for months, it's all totally normal :) you're already ahead of the game by showing interest and concern in her, but honestly don't worry. There's still so much time, and she's not going to get left behind if she starts school not knowing how to write her name or read :) x

ReignOfError · 28/01/2024 09:24

I had one of those kids who could read quite well and write a bit at 4. I had one who could not and learned both once he started school at 5. They’re both adults now and it has made not one jot of difference to their lives, happiness and achievements.

Tell your husband he may well put her off writing if he keeps on, and that will have long term consequences.

Walking2024now24days · 28/01/2024 09:28

She'll do it when she wants to. Dont push her. She'll be at school 14 years, plenty of time for that.

your DH needs to do some research on how kids lear, when & why.

in most other countries she wouldn't even be going to school for 1/2/3 more years.

An early lesson on 'all kids are different' & lots of parents lie.

a lot like the 'my DC is dry at night' at 18 months. They fail to mention the eleventy billion time a night they schedule to lift them onto the toilet.

leave DD alone or all you'll do is turn her off wanting to write/draw etc.

make fun things available that help with fine motor skills (as I'm sure you're already doing). Beads are good threading & making pictures.

carwas · 28/01/2024 09:30

Yeah my biggest fear is putting her off

OP posts:
viques · 28/01/2024 09:32

First of all, don’t worry. It is highly unlikely that the day your DD gets married she won’t be able to write her name in the register!

You are doing the right ( write!) thing by encouraging activities that help to develop her hand muscles, but don’t overdo it, colouring in is hard work for small hands.

Encourage drawing and mark making with different materials, pencils,felt tips, wax crayons, chalks and paints. It doesn’t matter what marks she is making, the act of making them is working those muscles.

Bead threading, play doh, sand and water toys for digging and pouring all involve hand muscles, as do dressing toys - and herself - putting on her socks, catching and throwing balls, eating with utensils, measuring out the cats biscuits. Concentrate on fun activities rather than stressing her out with writing her name.

You can also practice “ writing “ without using tools, writing in sand, or a tray of flour, tracing over letters written extra large on paper with a finger. Using magnetic or plastic letters to find the letters to spell out her name.

Ignore your friends whose children are currently writing the second volume of their biography. Your child has skills and abilities that their children don’t have yet, because all children develop at different rates, it’s just that some skills, like writing, have a higher status and boasting kudos than others.


And for some of them remember it will be because they have short names with easy to write letters, I am willing to bet that Ludovic Wibbly Floppington isn’t getting much further than a wonky L when it comes to signing his name.

Lifebeganat50 · 28/01/2024 09:32

carwas · 28/01/2024 09:30

Yeah my biggest fear is putting her off

And that’s what’s going to happen if you keep on at it

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