Sunday, September 4, 2011

Spotlight on Early Childhood Education

Dear Friends,

I have recently had the pleasure of making the acquaintance of a fellow advocate of early childhood education, Mr. Dan Gilbert. He has been kind enough to contribute one of his articles about the important impact parents and educators have in children learning to write. I hope you all enjoy and please feel free to contribute comments regarding the article.

Teaching Children to Write

From the time they are babies, children watch and observe the adults around them as they write in their everyday lives. They see their parents writing checks, making lists, and writing letters to friends. When children first try to imitate their parents' writing, their efforts are illegible to adults. Therefore, adults typically dub their writing as mere "scribbles". Their first attempts at writing the first letter of their name often only contain a few elements of the letter. However, these "scribbles" are an important and essential part in a child's writing development.

Parents and teachers often worry that their child is not developing writing skills because their letter formation is less than perfect. However, they should allow their child to develop their writing skills at their own pace. Instead of over-stressing penmanship, they should emphasize the fact that writing is the ability to communicate through the written word.

Vice President for Education at Primrose Schools, Dr. Mary Zurn, offers insight by saying, “the first conscious attempts a child makes to write a letter are usually the first letter of his or her name.  To an adult, the attempts may only vaguely resemble the letter, but these are moments to cherish and celebrate.  What is the message they are trying to communicate?”

Dr. Zurn has worked in the industry of early childhood education for some 40 years, and now incorporates the thought of self-expression and character building in the Balanced Learning® curriculum for preschool students. Writing is about expression and not about keeping the letters in the dotted lines. Pushing good penmanship on a child too soon can only lead to frustration and a dread of writing. As they develop more fine motor skills, a child's penmanship will progress at its own rate and with the leading of parents and teachers.

When children are encouraged to write for the sake of being creative and expressing themselves, then writing becomes fun, instead of frustrating. A child who does not feel the pressure to perform penmanship-wise will be much more likely to actually enjoy writing and 
want to write. Parents who want to encourage this should keep paper everywhere, so that children can practice writing, as well as other skills, through play. Parents should also use their own writing as a learning experience, inviting their children to participate while reinforcing writing skills. Reading is also essential to a child's writing development, as they imitate what they see and hear. Finally, in today's technologically-advanced society, it is important to allow children to practice writing with computers as well. A good word processing software will further encourage a child to write by eliminating the need to worry about letter formation or spacing. 

Writing is an essential skill to anyone who wants to succeed in the world. A parent who wants their child to be a good writer needs to encourage writing throughout the day. By making writing fun, as well as modeling their
own enjoyment of the writing process, their child will be much more likely to succeed.

Submitted by Dan Gilbert on behalf of Primrose Schools. For over 25 years, they have helped individuals achieve higher levels of success by providing them with an AdvancED® accredited, early child care services and education.  Through an accelerated Balanced Learning® curriculum, Primrose Schools students are exposed to a widely diverse range of subject matter giving them a much greater opportunity to develop mentally, physically and socially. Dan has written a number of articles on topics varying from bilingual learning to teaching the importance of volunteering.

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