“I believe in learning through play! But… will my child learn to write?”
“Will my child be able to write?” This is a frequent question during our school tour for new parents. Shaws Preschool has a play based, inquiry based curriculum. Learning Maths concepts, social skills, resilience, social skills and language skills seem to be a lot more visible. However, many parents are concerned if their child will be able to write. The answer is, YES! Not only will they learn to write, they will also enjoy writing and it will be part of what they do on a daily basis.
By Kindergarten Two (6 years old), when given a topic, the children are able to write a short story, pen down a narrative commentary,
write a short letter, or even put together a simple comic strip.
This is no easy task, as the children have to think about what they want to write about, and put it together so that it is meaningful and interesting. But the wonderful thing is, the children enjoy doing this! Some may find it challenging at first, but once they get it, they are confident little writers. How is this so?
It all boils down to the overall philosophy of the school – where learning is fun, and children are immersed in learning through everyday activities and play. And a few things we do to prepare them even before they are ready to write…
1. Setting a solid foundation
Children at Shaws Preschool do not start writing words and sentences in Nursery. In the earlier years, we first focus on developing their fine motor skills and pre-writing skills though play based activities such as dough play, scooping, pouring, peeling, cutting etc.
They are also given plenty of opportunities to scribble and draw. Drawing after all, is visual writing! From the pictures they draw, they are given plenty of opportunities to express their ideas and stories verbally.
In the earlier years, we also focus on reading rather than writing. In Nursery, the children are exposed to phonics and reading skills. They do not copy sentences focusing on penmanship. The children cannot read yet, and along with the fact that their little muscles are not totally ready for holding a pencil. So we believe that copying sentences is not meaningful. Instead, they attempt to write words in their own way, be it through letters or symbols. All this provides them with the foundations for writing, and also ensure they are creative and innovative in the way they choose to tell a story.
It is all about enjoying the process and having fun. It is also providing them with the developmentally appropriate foundations at the appropriate time, which prevents unnecessary frustrations for the children. Once solid foundations are set, the children will begin writing!
2. Making writing meaningful
We always ensure that pre-writing and writing activities must be meaningful to the children, in that the children are able to relate to what there are doing. This makes the writing part of their everyday life, rather than an additional task or a chore. For example, when they do research on their topics, they write and draw out their findings. When they go for excursions, they write and draw about their excursions. When they need to remember things, they write it down and stick it up on the board. Writing becomes part of their daily routine. They share their writing, read it out to their friends, pin it up in the classrooms or even put it in the library shelf for their friends to read.
3. Writing is fun!
Because our curriculum is play-based, there must be an element of fun! And when children have fun, they are more willing to do an activity. The children are able to choose what they write about. It can be challenging for children as they move up levels in writing, so it is important that it is done at the right time, in the right way to always keep it fun.
Once they can write, it doesn’t end there. The Kindergarten Two children are exposed to different types of writing – stories, news report, even comics to ensure they have a wide scope of writing ability. In the
end have happy little writers who enjoy writing!
Have a question for us? Let us know.
What can we do at home to encourage children to write?
We do plenty at school. However here are some things you can do at home.
- Give your child plenty of opportunities to draw or scribble. Offer as many tools as possible – crayons, colour pencils, chalk, etc.
- Encourage your child to use drawing to express ideas and tell stories.
- Draw attention to written words in our environment. From your grocery list to a menu, to street signs. Writing is all around us!
- Point out your child’s name and encourage him/her to attempt to write it.
- Provide your child with fun activities that help build fine motor skills such as play dough, cutting etc.
- When you read to your child, point out the words in the title, or simple words in the book. Don’t make it into a lesson, and only do it when your child seems interested.
- Ensure everything you do is always fun.
My child has started writing, however the spelling is not correct. I notice the teachers do not correct the spelling.
There is a fine line between encouraging a child to write and ensuring it is correct. Usually when a child has just started writing, our aim is to encourage the writing. So at Shaws Preschool, we do not correct the spelling. Once the child gains more confidence, and before the child leaves us to go to Primary school, then we start correcting them, while ensuring he/she does not loose the love for writing.
Liane Shaw, Director of Play