Strategies to help the child who is struggling to come to writing.
Writing happens when the child is approximately four to four and a half years old. By this time all the various indirect technical and intellectual preparations have matured and fused. All that is needed to set off the child’s explosion into writing is the stimulation of other children writing in the environment.
We have certain duties to fulfil before this explosion takes place so as to enable it to take place-
- Prepare and maintain the environment and the conditions in it so as to ensure that the child finds all the opportunities needed to give herself all the indirect and direct motor technical and intellectual preparations she needs for writing
- Then we wait expectantly to see this explosion preparing ourselves to receive it as it needs to be received, with enthusiasm and joy which equals that of the child who has made this achievement ( developmental conquest)
- We prepare the child’s parents – tell them what will happen, what sort of writing the expect and how to receive the explosion if it should occur at home
Signals that the child is ready to explode into writing-
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- Fluency in tracing Sand Paper Letters – Children are also seen tracing those letters on any and every surface.
- The way they use the Moveable Alphabet
- The beautiful drawings they turn out with the drawing insets i.e. light, even strokes. Once we observe certain children showing the symptoms we prepare the environment so that the children find all they need to write, i.e. the writing material should be of the best quality.
Feeling Sand Paper Letters and Writing them on a plain blackboard and on plain paper
Large blackboard and duster, Sand Paper Letters and chalk
- Ask the child to choose one letter from those she knows
- Trace the Sand Paper Letter and then take a chalk and write the letter on the blackboard
- Let the child trace and write it, one or twice to the right
- The adult should guide the child each time
- The child puts the chalk down between tracing the letters
- The child can ten take two letters at a time and write two or three letter words
- Later the child uses the blank paper and pencil to write
- The child works with the Sand Paper Letters on the blackboard
To give the practice in writing Sand Paper Letters
Age at Presentation
Three and a half to four years of age.
Exploring Sandpaper Letters, Sorting into Families, Feeling One Family and Writing on Plain Paper
Sand Paper Letters and plain paper.
- The child will feel each letter and place each one according to its family.
- Help the child understand and discern feeling a graphic symbol is the way to begin writing it. For example,
- c, a, g, o, q, d
- e, l, b, h, f, k
- j, p, t
- m, z, x
- y, w, u, v
Let the child say the sound, feel it and put in its family. The can write them accordingly.
Further exploring letter writing.
The child can take one group and write them on paper.
Age at Presentation
Three and a half to four years of age.
Placement of Letters on a Line
Embroidered mat with lines on two columns or bands. Have letters of the alphabet separately in a box, one letter for each. It can be the size of the Moveable Alphabet Box II.
- Look for the letters that fit between the main line (blue).
- The child continues to find and place these letters
- Then find and place those which go above the main line, and those below it
- Also let her know about the odd letter which does not reach the top line
To give the child the sensorial impression of where each letter should be placed when writing on the line
- The child can write them in groups on lines paper or on lined blackboard
- The child can feel the Sand Paper Letters and write them
Age at Presentation
Four years of age.
Writing Material in the Environment
Writing Paper, pencil of best quality, loose sheets of paper in different colours and sizes. Keep stacks of paper as for the metal insets and all writing things together on a shelf. Writing blackboards are similarly banded as the writing mats, have coloured chalk and a small duster kept and together in a small basket or tray. The lines are 1:1 for English. Bands make it more attractive and mistakes become more evident. Pencils used for Drawing Insets can also be used for writing. The sheets, being loose inspire the child to write because each sheet is new and can be put in her folder. Rulers r used for the child to draw her own lines.
Materials for binding
Staples or hole punch and tapes, ribbons or cords. The child can make her own booklet.
Have additional folders for preserving sheets
If some children show all the symptoms of exploding into writing but still do not start to write then give help. You can have some pictures with words written below for them to write. If some children are older and need help then enter into an agreement with them of what work to take first before they start to chose their work
- You have to trace one letter in a word first, or write the first word
- You must do one Drawing Inset first
Basically speaking the activities which help the child prepare directly for writing also help to further perfect the writing for calligraphy. There are Drawing Insets and the Sand Paper Letters. For orthography they are the Sand Paper Letters and the Moveable Alphabet. To help the child improve both these aspects of writing we need to revive the child’s interest in working with the material.
- To revive interest in the Sand Paper Letters
- Resume group activities which involve the Sand paper Letters, asking the children to trace them and say the first sound. E.g. you spread out the Sand Paper Letters, say a word and ask the children for the first sound of the word, the last sound or both
- Have group activities such as I SPY and Preliminary Oral Phonetic Analysis
- Say a word and let the child bring the first sound from the letters you have distributes
- Spread out the letters of a word and ask the child to trace
- Different children can bring the letters of a sound so that they hear a word
2. Have cardboard charts bound as in the writing paper of the Sand Paper Letters. Display these on a shelf, so that the child can trace the letter ad say the sound. Have blackboards hug n a wall, so that it can be turned over- one side bounded and the other side with squares, also have pain ones. hang them at the child’s height. Give larger and longer sheets for the child to use with Drawing Insets, the children can write (on their own or by copying) their own names on their work.
Writing stages for Older Children
These are needed as the child works with the Moveable Alphabet, when she needs to write sentences we introduce the capital letters.
Have cards with Sand Paper Letters. These are capital letters which respond to the lower case letters that the child has already been working with.
- Bring the lower case letters and the capital letters. Give a Three Period Lesson with a few at a time, linking them.
- First give a lower case letter, ask what it is, then give the capital letter saying, “This is the sound and it’s name is (name it)”
- Let the child trace it
- Say, “We find them in books that we read and names start with these letters”
To introduce the capital letter, the formations an to teach the names of the letters
- The child can write them on the blackboard or on paper when she knows them
Age at Presentation
Five to five and a half years of age.
Sequence of Letters
Sequence of letters in the alphabet can be introduced to the child in the form of songs or poems meant for this purpose. The only time this is useful is when the child must refer to a dictionary, index or directory.
Writing Copies on Lined Paper
The child by now has much experience with the Moveable Alphabet.
Paper of different lengths and various sizes in a variety of colours. This set of paper is called ‘writing samples’.
- Have words only in lower case.
- Have words in capitals where necessary.
Create writing samples using the following:
- Stories, poems, similar sounds, using phonograms in words/sentences, upper and lower case letters, people who help us, flowers, animals.
- Provide a picture and on the picture have helping words for vocabulary and spellings, e.g. write about things you do, things you have, things you see etc.
- Write samples sentences, e.g. The cat is chasing a dog.
- Provide a picture and ask the child to colour appropriate sentences the picture suggests.
- Create sentences with simple words, filling in the blanks, matching words/ideas and creating simple compositions etc.
- Write compositions on oneself, mother, father, environment, culture etc.
- Take a simple sample and show the child how to write it on paper, where to begin, how much space etc to use etc, looking at each word the child can writes.
- Draw the child’s attention to the lines on the paper, and help her to understand that the lines must have space between them; encourage the child to have space between them.
- Encourage the child to read the samples and then write them.
- Encourage the child to wrote her own ideas and create her own sentences.
- Provide the child with some related words first.
- In a sample, provide to the child fill in the blank sentences.
- Invite the child to write her own sentences.
- The child can use Classified Cards and write them in their own groups.
- The child can also write her own stories, compositions, essays on different topics, e.g. family outings, the seasons etc.
To help the child achieve solid writing standards, helping her to present her work well.
Age of Presentation
Around four and half years of age.
- Roman Numerals
Use of Frames
A frame the size of the paper. There are two types of frames, one roughly a one and a half inch border and the other with a wider base measurement. Have to of each kind of frame.
- Invite the child to use the frame and draw the border on her piece of paper.
- The child can write on the paper first and then decorate it on the sides or vice versa.
- The child can also use the frame for her arithmetic papers.
- She can make geometrical designs or any art work she wishes, and doing so make her art work more attractive.
The child can work individually taking one of the writing samples or writing independently and then decorating her work.
- To help the child lay out her work well and decorate it, if she chooses.
- To create aesthetically pleasing work, expressing the work she put into it.
Age at Presentation
Four and a half to five years of age.
- Keep useful and meaningful samples made in the environment.
- Put the samples in frames so the child is inspired to frame her own work.
This affects both writing and reading.
Five Punctuation Cards sets, each set has two cards. The first card has the punctuation in red and the second is without punctuation. The sentence is written in lower case letters in cursive writing. In a box, there are small cards missing punctuation and capitals. For each set, there is a box accompanying it.
- Works with full stop and capital letters.
- Works with question marks and upper case letters for proper nouns.
- Combines upper case letters, questions marks and full stop.
- Introduces the comma. This is an introduction, as there are many different ways to employ a comma.
- All of the above punctuation.
- Bring the first set.
- Read through the control cards, and explain the punctuation, e.g. upper case letters are used to begin sentences etc.
- Show the punctuation on the card and explain each one.
- Help the child understand how to is the punctuation, e.g upper case letters are also use for people’s names etc. Depending on the punctuation used while reading, adjust the tone of voice accordingly. For a full stop, pause.
- Once the child is familiar with the punctuation invite her to use set as intended. The child can use the first set as a control.
- Later, the child can do the activity turning over the control card, checking her work after a while.
- She can do the others sets later in the same way.
- For a comma, explain that we can use it when we do not want to write ‘and’.
To introduce the child to punctuation aiding her to both write and read.
Age at Presentation
Five to five and a half years of age. The child should write well and be able to write her own compositions.
Have prepared paragraphs the child can punctuate.
Written Question Game (Question Game)
Two large chalk boards or pieces of paper.
- It is the same as the Oral Question Game, however we now write the answers with the children.
- With a group of children make a statement and let the children answer the questions.
- A child of the adult may write out all the answers the children provide.
- The person writing chooses the phrase she wants, and then writes the story on another sheet of paper as she selects the phrases she wants to use.
- Explain to the children the story should have an beginning, middle and end.
- The children should give more then one answer to each question.
Encourage the children to use their own themes and write their own stories using their own ideas.
To help the child construct a logical story around a theme.
Age at Presentation
Five and a half years of age.
Storage of Work
Have a post box, tray or folder in the room in which the children store their work. When they leave the Children’s House, the children can take with them their post box and work. Encourage the children to write letters or messages to their friends, and then post them. Included on the posted items should be the date. Make folders and encourage the parents to return their work if taken home, so that they are added to the child’s orderly main file.
Encourage the children to be avid writers who decorate their work. Keep samples to help the children with any difficulties that may arise. The book corner and library can be stocked with useful and fun samples and also include in the library a list of stories, poems, a picture dictionary etc. Too, have lively bookmarks for the children to use.
The following are guidelines for adults regarding the child’s writing:
- Writing must never be made to serve any other purpose.
- Do not directly or indirectly teach the child writing.
- Respect the child’s spontaneous explosion into writing.
- By observing and waiting for the explosion to happen.
- By preparing the environment to receive it as it needs be received.
- By preparing the parents and oneself.
- Receive the child’s writing with joy and appreciation. Both the activity and the product.
- Do not criticize or correct the child’s writing – “Hands off the child’s writing.”
- Try to understand the difficulty that the child experiences, observe the imperfections in her writing and help her overcome them independently.
- The key is the child’s continued enthusiasm for writing, as further progress and perfection is needed.
- Montessori’s aim was to help inspire the children to write. Praise the child’s work and notice her mistakes, which are necessary steps and portals for growth. Grow curious about the child’s difficulties and help her overcome them, and gradually they disappear. Mindfulness of ones own reactions is vital to truly help the child.
- Only when the child ask you want she should write, suggest a subject inspiring her to write names of friends or use an object to write a story around, ask her to think of things she writes she can write down or encourage her to write a letter to someone about an event or something in her environment.