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Preschool and Writing Words/letters

So my first child just started Pre-school this week, he is 3 1/2 yrs old, and man I felt inadequate in parenting! Almost every kid could write their names already! I watched one child write a letter to their grandparents, with their mother telling them which letter to write and she wrote it letter for letter without mistakes! It was difficult to keep my mouth from hitting the floor! I really felt like I was a hurting my child's educational future! How old should they be when they start learning to write? So far he hasn't shown much interest in learning to write letters at home and I don't want to force him. Any ideas on how I can get him interested? Also he still does fist coloring and writing... how can I get him to hold the crayon correctly? When I try to fix it he gets upset with me. Please tell me I am not a loser parent! :(

Thank you and please be kind in your responses.

J.

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So What Happened?™

I just wanted to thank everyone for all their positive repsonses! You truly helped me a lot, mentally. Just as an update, my little man is in one of those learn by play preschools that everyone talked so highly about. After talking to one of his teachers I learned that the class consists of kids who Will be 4 yrs old by Dec 9... meaning some of them are already 4 and are getting ready to head off to preschool next year versus my son who will be turning 4 in December. Thank you for all the tips on books and games to help him through his progression of learning his letters. You are all so wonderful and it is great to know such a great group of strong, intelligent women are available to answer all my learning as I go mommy questions. :)

Thank you again!

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I still "fist" my pen, and I am constantly getting compliments on my penmanship. Just throwing that out there! :)

Children do better when they are ready and eager to learn something. Somethings especially with fine motor skills girls show an interest earlier as they do with words, not always. You are definitely not a bad mother!! Give him lots of opportunities, but let him enjoy the experience and don't worry about "right way" He will do fine in his own time!!

Great grandma N. (early childhood educator)

Hi J.,

My daughter is just starting preschool too! She is 2-1/2 but there are 3yrs in the class. The first thing the teach said is "let them be kids and let them play. Kids learn while they play and there will be plenty of time to teach them how to read and write."

Good luck and have fun!
M.

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Social and emotional development are far more important at that age. It is so easy to compare kids and worry, but try not to fall into that trap. It's never ending. I was reading at 3.5, and you know what? No one has ever asked me about when I started to read whan I applied for college, jobs, grad school, etc. Kids develop at different rates in different areas. Emotional intelligence is just as important as (if not more so than) academic skills when it comes to doing well in life. My early start was just that -- an early start. I remember being concerned a few years ago when my friend showed me how her son could (at 2) recite all the American presidents. And then I thought, who cares? If we had chosen to train our son to do this, I'm sure he could have as well. However, we believed (and still do) that little kids should be playing, not memorizing random facts. My son is in first grade at an excellent school, and several kids in his class still flip lower case b's and d's, and the teacher says that this is perfectly normal.

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You are definately not a loser parent. I was a 1st grade teacher for 10 years and now stay home with my kids...my 5 year old twins just started kinder. Although all children learn at different levels and the range for normal is so big at that age, writing at 3 is not considered normal or developmentally appropriate at all. Three year olds need to be playing, not writing. There is a philosphy for preschool called learning through play...I completely agree with it (I'm sure you can find info if you google it). Through play activities your child will develop important skills which will lead to the writing and reading. Most three year olds fine motor skills (especially boys) are not developed enough to be writing. To develop those skills kids need to be playing with playdough, painting, threading objects onto string, playing in the sand/mud, etc. There is so much time for writing....let him play. I have not forced any learning on my kids and both are already reading and beginning to write. By kinder (5 years) teachers hope kids can write their name and some of the letters...some do this and more some can not do this at all.

I say at 3 let him develop at his own pace right now. My son didn't show any interest in coloring or writing until he was about 4 1/2...and he is doing fine. If you push things on him he is likely to resist you and this could cause problems in the future. When he is interested he will pick up the crayons and start coloring.

Don't be too hard on yourself. Enjoy this time. It goes by so fast. He'll be in kinder before you kow it.

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First of all you are not a looser parent! The child you were watching may have been in preschool since 6wks of age or that child was just ready to write. Relax! Second, children will write and hold crayons/pencils the 'proper' way when they are ready. Some are ready before others. Remember the curve your ped shows you at well baby checks? This same curve applies to the rate at which children learn. They learn things when they are ready. I feel your child will be writing his letters by the end of the preschool year! Take it from a preschool teacher of 3 year olds for 6 years to just relax and try not to compair your son to the other children. :)

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Absolutely not! I think some parents try too hard to create superchildren. It is not a competition. Both my girls entered kindergarten knowing their capital letters and learned all the rest. Preschool is supposed to be about developing social skills and learning some structured interaction. It is not about doing kindergarten work two years early. I never aimed for superchildren and just supported their natural sense of curiosity. They are both excellent students in GATE (gifted) classes in grades 7 and 4. Your son is doing fine!

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I use to ba a preschool teacher and there is a fun game you can play with him to help get him to use the proper pencil hold. Get a clothes pin and a bowl and some cotton balls. Then tell him to see how many cotton balls he can get in the bowl. YOu can time it if you wish to make it more fun. Pinching the clothes pin works his fingers to help hold the pencil right. They will also teach him in preschool. A lot of the time what happens is he will see his peers do it a copy it. Whats importent is that you made the great choice to put him in preschool. Also I was just wondering how old the other child was that was writing. They could be four. You would not believe the difference a year could make.

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J., You are a GREAT parent! You have not damaged your child's educational future in the least. I had a friend who taught her child to write her name very early, and I felt like JUNK because my son could not even recognize the letters! Then a friend who is a kindergarten teacher REALLY encouraged me. She said that forcing the issue would probably backfire and that it was normal for a child to not know how to form letters at age 3!
If you really want to try a good reading program (at your child's pace) you could try "How to Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons". You can get it on Amazon or at Barnes and Noble. It teaches phonics and it's SUPER EASY! You don't even have to practice writing letters if you choose not to.
There is NO PRESSURE! You did not fail your child. I know it's hard but don't compare yourself to other parents. You are everything your child needs!

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You are not a loser mom! Every child develops at their own pace. Don't compare your child's writing (or any other ability, although it is hard to do) to other kids. In fact when I went to a preschool fair and the preschools were showing off how nicely their students write, it turned me off from their school. To me, it showed that those particular schools focused too much on handwriting and leaving out other important parts of a child's education. Just because a child has sloppy handwriting or can't write his or her name does not mean that he or she is not as smart or as capable as other kids.

It you want to make writing fun, one activity is forming letters in a tub of sand (or sand box). Write the letters and have him trace it with his finger. You can also write his name. Have him use crayons to trace his name. Tracing letters is very important at the beginning stage of writing. It makes letters and writing less challenging and frustrating. A third activity is making letters out of play dough. Finally, you could also have him "write" a letter to a friend or grandparent. Have him tell you what he is writing and you write it for him. (His writing may look like a batch of chicken scratch, but he is connecting marks on the paper to mean something. Eventually he will get interested in writing and letters. When my daughter was about 3.5 years old, I also found that my daughter did not want to write. It was hard for her and she got easily frustrated. If it had a purpose, like writing a card to a friend, then she was more willing to try.

Good luck!

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Hi J.,
there's just tons of research being done on brain development lately.. what I've gleaned is earlier is NOT better. It actually just wastes effort.
I've always found it slightly inhumane to force academics (even introduce academics, actually ) on a child under 5. They have SO much to learn, walking, talking all kinds of coordination, problem solving, social skills, it seem disrespectful to the process to add anything!
Preschool can be wonderful, but be sure that the program you are entering is a good fit for your lifestyle!
Enjoy your little one!

Your three year old is normal (and probably happy too). There is no RIGHT age for any kind of development. There is an AVERAGE age. Just remember that an average means it comes from a whole list of different ages added up and divided by two. Don't compare. Know your kid well, and you will know what works for him.

Looking back over your shoulder doesn't guarantee that no one can ever run faster than you...and besides that, you might trip!

I think my son was about 3 1/2 when he STARTED taking an interest in writing. I wouldn't force your son to learn to write. Try to make writing look fun. Talk to him as you spell out words. I think this skill is one of those that once they get hooked into it there is a huge growth curve.
Also, don't be discouraged with his classmates being ahead of him. Remember he is a boy and is most likely very active and doesn't like to sit still and color much. Girls naturally are more into sitting still, coloring, writing, etc. As a teacher, I would rather not see my son so far ahead of his class. Those are the kids that get into trouble because they are bored.
Hopefully, now that he is in preschool and sees what other kids can do he will take more of an interest in learning to write his letters, etc.
One activity that I did with my son was while we were standing in line or waiting somewhere we would find a sign or other print with letters large enough to trace with his finger. there are all kinds of letter games you can make up with the letters you find all around you. It is a constructive way to pass time.

Don't let these over achiever parents stress you out. It's helpful if they can write letters (A,B, C) before kindergarten so that it's not all new then, but really not before then. Don't worry much about the grip. It will straighten out at the right time. The most important thing is for your kid to not feel like he's failing just because these parents are show offs. If the school is too academic then switch schools. You want your son to LOVE SCHOOL AND LEARNING and not to have to master this or that. He's a tiny child - don't let anyone rob him of being a real kid. He doesn't need to be interested in writing - he's interested in EXACTLY what he should naturally be interested in.

You are not a loser parent - your job is to protect him from people who set silly and inappropriate goals for small children, and tehn teach them that they are not good enough. Is the a 'developmental' program? That is, one that is geared to the approprite developmental stages of children? Look for one that stresses play and developmental approaches and stay clear of the academic ones. There will be enough academics in the kid's life, right? Let him feel good about playing!!

Good luck - I know it's hard!

My advice is to contuine doing what youve been and let him be a kid. My son one came to me and asked me to show how to write his name and more questions followed. Be patient it sounds like are doing it right not pressuring him. all kids will get there. ;-)

Hi J.,
Isn't it something what they expect now in school. Not like when we were in school. My daughter started Kindergarten this year and we had no idea about the level of education she should be at to start. If you have a chance, check with your Kindergarten and find out what their requirements are so you can plan accordingly.

You guys sound normal to me. One game I played with my daughter to get her into writing and strengthen her fingers was to try and get the pencil or crayon from her while she was writing. I'd only do it a couple of times, and I'd warn her with "I'm going to get it" before I tried to get the pencil but it did get her in the habit of holding the pencil tightly and to concentrate on her writing. Maybe this could help.

We're now working with the school to make sure she does well in Kindergartner because she's not at the same level as the 5.5-6 year old's in her class. Six years old in Kindergarten, I couldn't believe it but it's true.

Good luck and I wish you all the best.
L.

Hi J.,

I have a 6 & 7 yr old and I've worked in the Kindergarten classrooms and I can tell you that by Kindergarten, the kids have more patience to sit and write and that's truly when the kids learn how to correctly hold a pencil, write their letters etc. Right now, you son, like most boys, probably doesn't want to sit and do any project, he'd prefer to be running around, building legos and digging up insects in the yard. My son was the same way in preschool/pre-K and eventually, after the first two months of Kindergarten he started enjoying school and could sit and write. Not well, but gradually getting better each month....as will yours. So you can breath a sigh of relief....he's going to be fine.

you are not a bad paretn! LOL!....My daughter is 4 just started preschool and cannot write her name....we just started writing letters...she can write a letter L....sometimes....but her attention span is just not there to really concentrate...but she'll be able to write allof her letter by the end of school year....and your son will too....don't worry...every kid has thier own way of learning and time table....just spend sometime coloring with him and then introduce one letter....he probably wont' get it the first time....but try again another time.

You are definitely NOT a loser parent! I speak from the standpoint of being a mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, as well as from having a degree in early childhood education and more than twenty years experience working with other people's children.
The child you observed writing so perfectly - with her mother's help - is the unusual child. Now, she may be doing that writing at least partially because she has a natural interest in doing that, but she also may be overly pushed in an academic direction by her parents.
Others have already said it... don't compare your child with others. There is a difference between knowing what is the 'norm' for your child's age, and comparing him to an individual child.
Have you talked with his preschool teacher or the director regarding how the school views this situation. If they are trying to push the academics too much, you do need to look for a more appropriate preschool for your son. But if what you saw from the child you mentioned is not something the school expects, you simply need to work with them and let them work with you in helping your son develop to his best potential.

There is an old saying that I feel is very true... You are your child's first and most important teacher. Don't ever lose sight of that fact. The "professional" educators are there to help you and to fill in gaps where you may not be adept at teaching your child certain things. Most teachers and schools today have come into agreement with that philosophy and will be more than happy to work with you. (Unfortunately, I didn't find that to be true when I was raising my children, but we managed to 'muddle' through in spite of an attitude from the system that said "we are the experts. Let us teach your child and don't try to mess up what we're doing") I've seen education make a much needed 180 degree turn in the past few years, and you can be happy for that change.
I don't think I have any other advice that hasn't already been given by others, but just wanted to be one more voice reassuring you that you are on the right track. I do remember the feeling, as a young mother, of wondering if I was going to ruin my child by not knowing how to teach them the things they needed to know. You are not alone!!

Please do not worry.He is only 3 1/. I would just let him keep coloring just the way he wants. SOme children do develop hand/eye coordination early, but boys are usually a bit later...especially the small motor skills. Let him be just who he is. I can't remember perfectly, but my kids definitely could not write letters well at 3 1/2.

Do not dispair, your child is normal. Children all over the world must do alot of coloring and drawing (scribbling) and then little by little you will see lines that look like an l, and s, and v, etc. It takes awhile for them to develope thier fine motor skills to print letters. Children need alot of active large motor skill play and those who are pushed too hard too young to do all sit down work usually fall apart about 2nd or 3rd grade studies have shown. Children all have different gifts. Some kids are great at putting puzzles together, others at riding trikes/bikes, others at drawing/painting, etc. Some kids talk at a young age and others take longer. They are all normal. The most important thing is that the child is happy, having fun, and learning in a happy environment where they are learning social skills. I had one boy just go to K knowing all his letters and printing them, another some of his letters, and one boy who was just beginning to.
Ane they are all normal. Just like walking is normal from 9 to 18 months, there is a wide age range for learning other things too and they are all normal.
F.

I taught Kindergarten for a number of years. I actually preferred that children enter Kindergarten without much experience with writing. Children who come in with "writing skills" often come with bad writing habits, such as improper letter formation, improper directionality, and writing in all capitals (many parents and preschool teachers teach this way). These are tough habits to get rid of if a child has been writing for a long time. My son did not show an interest learning how to write his name until he was 5 1/2, right before he started kindergarten. Once children are ready, they learn quickly. More important at your son's age is to focus on developing his fine motor skills by learning how to cut with scissors, drawing self portraits and shapes, playing with clay. You also need to focus on phonemic awareness skills such as rhyming and letter sounds-if he is ready. As for pencil grip, give your son broken pieces of crayons to color with or golf pencils. The short length will force a tri-pod grasp. I teach my students this rhyme-"pinch your pencil (with thumb and pointer finger), put it to bed (rest the upper end of pencil in the crook between thumb and pointer, give it a pillow to rest your head (middle finger supports underside of pencil)".
Bottom line- Don't compare your child with others (especially girls). Your son will let you know when he is ready. Many kids aren't ready until they are 5 or 6. Let his kindergarten teacher teach him how to write. He is 3 1/2. his job right now it to learn social skills, phonemic awareness skills, language skills, and age appropriate fine and gross motor skills.

Wow--you've had a lot of responses. And I haven't read through them, so forgive me if this is repeat advice. I've worked with occupational therapists in the public school setting, and have gotten lots of great tips for my own kids. They say the pre-writing activities that help kids learn to write are NOT actually writing practice (until they're older, of course). As a preschooler, kids need to do activities that improve fine motor skills to PREPARE them for writing. Those activities that help differentiate the thumb, pointer, and middle finger from the other two fingers. The thumb and first two fingers need to move independently from the other two, in other words. So activities such as squirting spray bottles (water the plants outside!) or squeezing clothespins or squeezing playdough are excellent fine motor activities!

you r a graet mom. your child will do fine, you will see other things he can do that the other childern r slow in. not to loge ago kids did not start wrighting untill 2nd grade.

Please don't compare your child to other children, ever! Learning & development aren't a race. Each child learns at their own pace. I wouldn't worry about it unless the teacher mentions it. My son could write his nickname, JT, at 4, but not his full name, John Thomas. He learned that in Kindergarten, but didn't really master it until halfway through 1st grade. Don't worry. You are not a bad mother!

:-)

As a former kindergarter teacher, (now a SAHM with a curious 13 mo. old!)there is no reason to be concerned about your son's academic skills! You're doing great! While playing games with letters and numbers at home is great, its more important right now that he be enjoying learning and feel that it is fun. Forcing young chldren to perform tasks that they developmentally are not able to understand yet just sets them up for frustration and a negative view of learning- NOT what we want for our children or what the teacher wants for them either!
At 3 1/2 he is still woking on fine motor skills, so fist coloring and writing is totally normal. Rather than try to fix his hand, you could try showing him how you color or write and see if he can copy you- making it a game can take the pressure off and keep it from becoming a power struggle between you and him. Above all, remember to have fun with learning at home during this naturally curious age, worrying less about performing and more about exploring! Good luck! :)

J., don't worry -- it's really early for him to be writing letters -- especially cuz he's a boy. Relax -- he's not going to college without being able to write.......

Girls are usually way more advanced at this, so don't compare them. I have twins and my daughter has always had better fine motor skills than my son.

Children do better when they are ready and eager to learn something. Somethings especially with fine motor skills girls show an interest earlier as they do with words, not always. You are definitely not a bad mother!! Give him lots of opportunities, but let him enjoy the experience and don't worry about "right way" He will do fine in his own time!!

Great grandma N. (early childhood educator)

J.,
Don't feel inadequate!!! Today's society has just gotten SOOOO competitive! I am 33 and when I was in school we were definitely not expected to be able to read/write at all in kindergarten. These days many children are reading and writing at the beginning of Kinder. Things have change so much that some parents feel that they need to invest in really expensive reading and writing games/programs and start their children really early(depends on each program but I've seen an advertisement for a baby learning to read!!) I don't personally think this is necessary, but this is just my opinion. Some children will respond well to these types of tools and others won't want anything to do with it and will be turned off completely! Trying to start early is a choice that some choose to make. It is all in your approach with your child. You are the one who knows them best. Your child will learn to read and write when they are ready. This is not to say not to do anything. Of course you should expose your child to reading on a daily basis, and when they show more interest in writing go with it! My son goes to a daycare/preschool that acts like a little school-so he learns songs, does art, and plays with many other little ones his age, in the 3 year olds room, they are all potty trained and start doing school-like activites, but it is supposed to expose them to reading/writing in a positive, non-threatening way, not force them into it. Seeing other children do something helps him learn and he wants to imitate what they are doing. I am guessing that many of the kids at your son's preschool have been there for a while. Don't beat yourself up! You are doing what's right for your son!!
K- students are supposed to be able to write there letters (capitals and lowercase), and numbers to 20 by the end of first grade. Many come in knowing this, but it is not a standard until the end of the year. Hope this helps!

A K/1 Teacher in Cupertino

Don't worry about it, is my advice. He will pick it up. The most important thing at this age is having fun playing, they are learning all the time. We tend to think of reading and writing as distinct skills, but actually they are a combination of many smaller things that are gradually learned over time. Many kids who can 'read' and 'write' early are just parroting (of course, not always true). Studies have shown that the early advantage disappears by the time the kids are in middle school.

I read 'Einstein never used flashcards' where child development psychologists explain learning, the skills that kids need to learn, how it is linked to their biological development and how you can support that learning. It was fascinating and has made me a lot less worried about trying to drill my son. I know it is extra hard when there are concerns about your child not falling behind. I believe the most important thing is that they are allowed to indulge their natural curiosity and excitement: they are learning all the time.

E.

It sounds to me like you have a very normal three-year old. There are certain skills kids need before entering kindergarten, but not pre-school--that's why it is called "pre," i.e. before school. I think kids who are pushed into academics before they are really ready are more apt to get frustrated. We didn't push our son who moved from an in-home day care when he was three into a regular pre-school. He had learned some basics in the in-home day care and at home, but not much. He went on to be an honor student in grade school, high school, college, and graduate school, so I don't think he was hurt by not being able to write at age three.

Dear J., You should congratulate yourself for not pushing your child and getting him frustrated by trying to live up to unrealistic standards. There was a time (when I was a kid) when KINDERGARTEN was all play and we learned to read and write in first grade. And my generation still loves to read books for pleasure. Just because a few children can be taught to write at the age of 3 or 4 doesn't mean yours should. Let him enjoy fist coloring and forget trying to correct his methods. At his age, few children have the dexterity to master the "pen" grip. If you want to establish a good foundation for future learning, read to him every day. Encourage your step-son to read to him . The 13-year-old can pick out books at the library that his brother will enjoy...a good bonding experience for them, and a subtle way to get the older boy to appreciate reading more (always helpful in this video game culture). Just resist the impulse to get your boy to "measure up". It's an ego booster for the parent, and detrimental to the child.

Good luck...the Bay Area is known for its competitive learning atmosphere. Resist it !!

...D.

Wow! I don't think most kids that age can write that good. I wouldn't stress. And girls tend to be faster at that stuff so the girl who wrote a letter to her grandparents was probably just ahead of the curve. I bet you son could kick her butt in a tree climbing race. :)

first, remember that the mother with the child that could write so well had a lot of time to spend to teach the child, and he or she must have been a more than willing student. don't feel bad I think if you just let your son go to school without trying to force him now he will see how the other children write and want to do like they do as well as the teacher teaching and he will catch on and no doubt catch on. Please don't beat yourself up over this, I'm sure it will all be just fine. take care!

Dear J.,
You are not a loser parent by any means. All children are different and 3 1/2 seems really early to worry about your son knowing how to write his letters. This will come in time. Be really careful comparing him to what other children can or cannot do. He is an individual little person. He will do better than others at some things and be behind them in others. It's perfectly normal and healthy for him to be okay with being where HE needs to be. Just love him and encourage him. My daughter wrote everything backwards for a while and some people tried scaring me by telling me she was dyslexic. She wasn't, just left handed. She got it figured out. I think 3 1/2 is simply too soon to worry about your son's educational future because I'm certain he'll do just fine in his own time.

Best of wishes!

Children are all so different! We have 9 and a foster baby and each one has different interests and gifts. Some kids love writing and drawing, and some hate it. Boys usually tend to have less desire at a young age to sit and work on fine motor skills! They usually want to be developing their large motor skills in running, jumping, and playing. So, kids aren't cookie cutter. Let your son be the little boy he is right now and have fun building forts and throwing the ball around. At this age they will usually be able to sit and listen to a short book or two each day and you can point out different letter shapes to him. Also maybe see if he'd rather draw his letter shapes in a plate of sand with his finger. That might be more appealing to him than trying to hold a pencil in his hand. But don't fret if he's not into sitting there till he gets it perfect, there's plenty of time for learning to write! Just cherish the time you get to play with him and watch him be a 3 1/2 year old boy. :)

Hi J.,

My daughter is just starting preschool too! She is 2-1/2 but there are 3yrs in the class. The first thing the teach said is "let them be kids and let them play. Kids learn while they play and there will be plenty of time to teach them how to read and write."

Good luck and have fun!
M.

i say -- keep up the good work of letting your child be a kid and do not worry about keeping up with those who push their kids fast. this is one of many experiences you will have of believing that you are doing ok compared with others and i hope you have been reassured. by the way, my son is 3 1/2 and none of his peers are writing at all.

You are not a Loser!! Many children are not interested in learning and won't until they are ready and all children learn at different rates. Also, if your son is being exposed to letters and you are reading books, he is learning, but is not prepared or just does not want to practice it.

Forcing him hold his crayon/pencil correctly is always going to be a struggle...don't do it! He can be corrected by the teachers, who he is more likely to listen and respond to. Bring the issue up with them...asking them to pay attention and correct it. When he's coloring or drawing at home say, "Remember how Teacher X showed you to hold your crayon with your thumb and fingers". "Want mommy to show you?"

My middle son was never interested in participating in the "school" part of preschool. He knew all the shapes, colors, could only recognize a few letters and numbers and was able to write his name when he went to Kinder. When he started, it was amazing...it was as if a switch was turned on and all of a sudden he knew everything that his preschool teacher and I thought he was not retaining!

My oldest son went to Kinder at about the same level your son is now in preschool...behind on all his skills. He struggled every fall, but now he is an honors student in high school, so he definitely caught up and surpassed many of the kids who "knew more" at Kinder. Although he has to work hard for his grades...it doesn't come natural for him like my younger boy. My oldest boy also held his pencil incorrectly until 4th grade and would not allow me or his dad to correct him. We brought it up in K and 1st and they weren't worried...said he would figure it out and were really more focused on reading than writing. In 2nd and 3rd I brought it up to his teachers who said they would work with him, but ultimately did not. I also asked for help from the District, but had no luck finding any free or low cost assistance. His 4th grade teacher finally had him sit at the front "teaching desk" with her and would tap the table every time she caught him holding his pencil incorrectly to remind him to switch it. He had it down within a few weeks, but his writing is still not that great, so it would be better to correct that sooner.

What I'm really saying is, eventually, they all catch up unless there is a learning difficulty. However, you don't want to force the issue. School and learning at this age should be fun! They are learning WAY more at younger ages than we did in school. Play games with him pointing out letters, numbers, shapes and colors. Read to him daily and talk about the story because comprehension seems to be tougher for boys. One thing my 4yo girl likes is someone prints her name on paper and gives her some alphabet stickers. Her task is to pull the correct letters for her name out as they look on the paper and place them in the correct way underneath her printed name. Start with upeercase, then work on lowercase. She is pretty good at choosing the right letters, but does not always have them oriented correctly. Now that she is getting good at that, she is beginning to practice writing the letters. It's a slow process and they are all different. She also is doing well at preschool according to the teacher, but when I ask her about the letter or number for the month, she clams up even though she knows it. They are like us...when their day is over, they don't always want to talk about it, they want to relax and have fun! Take care and don't worry!

OMG YOU ARE NOT A LOSER PARENT!!!!!! 3 1/2, and a boy- he shouldn't be interested in more than bugs, scribbling with crayons and markers, and running around like mad. I think as long as you read to him regularly (like nap and bed time) and keep his little hands learning, his mind will expand. I have never met a 3 year old who could write a full letter, let alone all the letters to their name without help. Maybe start practicing his name- and then words like mommy and daddy. Get his alphabet down one letter at a time with sounds and all, but don't rush him. Do things like play dough, cutting and pasting, and other crafst to get his hands used to using different muscles, etc. Get a knot tying book, or a how to make crafts out of basic household stuff, like a drum out of an oatmeal cannister, etc. The more intricate, the more he will develop and learn.
Remember, too, that boys learn at a different rate than girls, and some are artistic and some are not- some are physical and strong and others are not. Some are more mentally driven and others are not. There is no rhyme or reason, and no bad way for a child to develop- except not at all.
As far as the coloring and writing, maybe teach him some letters and if he says they are hard, show him that properly holding his pencil or crayon will help him write better. Kids always want to please their parents, but their attention spans are short. Look for small improvements and praise him when he makes an effort. Again, J., YOU ARE NOT a loser parent. I think sometimes kids are pushed too far too fast and not allowed to be kids. Reading and writing are SUPER important, but so is running around and getting out your wiggles, or discovering the jumping spider nest in your aloe plant, or watching the nut grass grow and being excited about how it sprouts. Weeds and bugs to us, exciting new adventures to your child.
Good luck, and no worries. It's just time to start adding one more little thing to his day.
-E. M

Hi J.- Elly is right on! I too read "Einstein Never Used Flashcards" as well as did some other research on the subject. Just because lots of people are doing something (ie. pushing their kids to read and write early) doesn't mean it's the right thing. Both my girls had no academics in preschool and are now excellent students in a challenging school who LOVE to read. Your boy needs to learn a lot in preschool but very little of it has to do with worksheets or flashcards. You might even find a preschool that doesn't focus on academics so your child can learn social skills, be read to, play and have fun. Play is sadly becoming a lost art but the truth is it is extremely important to a developing child. I honestly think this push to teach even younger children to read and write is a push down from the grade schools who are now so focused on state standards that children are expected to learn things that they are just not developmentally ready for. Every parent should spend some time reading what child development experts say about all this because it is vastly different from what a lot of schools are expected to teach. It seems the government may not be the best at micro managing our kid's education, go figure!

Good grief NO you are not a loser mom! Your child is 3...THREE. That means barely out of diapers! Ok, so great, some kids are starting to write their names, that doesn't mean your kid is behind or you are doing anything wrong! In fact if you push him too hard you may have a fight on your hands.
At this age let him PLAY. If want him to learn to read and write then make it a game or a "Mommy" time. Sit and read to him, point out different words and letters..."Apple, look sweetie AAAAAAAA ppppp lllll" isn't that funny sounding? PLAPPLE, MAAPLE, BLAPPLE! Look! Your name is Andrew, do you know that Andrew starts with "A" just like apple?" Make it fun! If you want him to learn to color then get a big box of crayons and sit at the table with him, you color something, let him color something. Make funny faces. Draw a picture for HIM. Draw a picture for Daddy.
Every child is different, don't ever compare him with someone else's child because he will always be ahead of one and behind another. Just play with him, love on him and BE with him. THAT is what he needs most of all. =)

you are NOT a loser parent. your child is at the exact developmental stage he should be at for 3 1/2 years old - experimenting with crayons - scribbling / coloring getting his first taste of putting something on paper and having it turn out!!!

i think about all the developmental toys for 3 - 4 year olds - the toys are big and clunky, because they don't have the dexterity to play with smaller sized toys. they need time to develop these skills. you are giving them the time by introducing them to books, taking them to the park, meeting new people, going on a train ride, watching the clouds float through the sky, picking up their toys and contributing to your household by emptying the trash, picking up their toys or helping clear the table after a meal.

none on my children attended preschool - i asked the kindergarten teacher how "far behind" they were compared to their preschool prepared friends -she said our children listened well, behaved kindly, made friends, paid attention at the proper times - all expectations for kindergarten children. our kids 'caught up' to the other kids in a matter of weeks because they had a strong, solid base of being read to, experiencing new challenges. sometimes they even entertained themselves when i needed a few minutes peace!

as far as your son getting frustrated with you when you correct his crayon/pencil holding technique - he will be frustrated because it's not time for him to hold a pencil 'the right way' yet. that time will come and he will hold his pencil correctly when his hands and muscles are developmentally ready.

i feel so frustrated by the 'high expectations' put on these young ones. if your little one is enjoying life - good for him and you! this time will pass all too quickly.

there's plenty of time to write a letter to grandma, etc...your parents would probably appreciate some scribbles instead of a parent directed letter. relax and enjoy your TODDLER'S joys experiencing the world one moment at a time!

please excuse my 'passion' - i see so many children being pushed and pushed. sometimes we need to guide them but let them enjoy being 3 1/2.

J.,

Not to worry. As a teacher of 3 homeschooled children, I found that the most appropriate age for introducing writing came AFTER 5 yrs old,(about five and a half is avg)... and boys sometimes 6 months later than girls.

Early introduction only led the child (and teacher!)to high fustration and avoidance.

Children can be helped with proper pencil holding technique by using a 3 sided rubber nib that slides onto it. Don't bother trying to change the way he holds a crayon. When formal letter instruction starts, pencil position, body/feet/non writing hand position and the way the paper is turned will all be taught. There is no correct way for a toddler to hold a crayon. Whatever is comfortable,... right now it's simply exploration.

Regards,
G.

You are not a loser! It sounds like you need to find a new preschool he he. I was really pleased wheni found a preschool that understands that with all the academic rigor of k-12 that emotional growth is key in those early school days. Assuming you are a smart supportive parent your kids are gonna get what they need academically and the rest of it is important now. That's crazy dude kids shouldn't feel inqdequate for not writing at 3 play play play I say!!!

My daughter is in preschool and she is also 3 1/2. She has been in preschool for 8 months and still doesn't write her letters. So I wouldn't worry about it. Your sone will learn at his own pace. It is also possible that some of those other kids are much older, they could be 4 or even 5.

I still "fist" my pen, and I am constantly getting compliments on my penmanship. Just throwing that out there! :)

First of all: CALM DOWN!
Second of all: NEVER compare your child to another, especially a girl! Most girls love coloring and writing etc. while boys are more physical! My son just started kindergarten - he'll be 5 in October - we debated holding him back a year or starting him now. He tends to write his name backwards n a I instead of Ian, meanwhile my BFF's little girl - who is 3 months younger can write Charlotte and recite the alphabet in French and English. My son thinks W is a number ;) tee hee! However - my son can outrun Charlotte and is much more sure footed and agile - she still runs like a toddler and tends to trip and fall more. So the brain develops on it's own schedule with every kid.
I volunteer at my son's K class and see first hand that the kids are all very different as to what they can do physically and academically and the teacher works with all of them on their level. One boy couldn't even recognize his own name. He will be writing his name and address etc. before Christmas I'd bet.
The saddest thing I see in the class are 2 kids that are so overwhelmed and shy that they don't speak at all - the entire day! SO - I would focus on getting your little boy socialized so he is comfortable in a group - know how to share and cooperate and listen to the teacher and SIT STILL.
Sitting still is tough for a lot of boys.
Make crayons available at home - color with him so he sees how you hold them and he will mimick you - eventually. For now - let him enjoy himself and get him 100% potty trained - able to pull up his pants etc. His K teacher will thank you!

J.,
Hello! My opinion is that you are in no way a looser parent. Your son is where most kids are at his age! I also noticed that you have a 1year old and a 3 1/2 year old. Pretty much you have 2 babies! One is just bigger than the other one. The fact that you have him in preschool now show that you care and that you are getting your son ready for kindergarten. You are socailizing him and getting him ready for school. That is great for you and your son! At three is a good age to start to teach him all the things he will also be learning in school, but don't be too upset if he doesn't pick it up really fast. It takes time and patience! I belong to a group and one of the moms posted this for preschool curriculum. It is letters and names and more!www.PrintActivities.com I hope it helps you have the start to teaching him letters and his name. My daughter learned her letter recignition, sounds and numbers 1 - 10 through LeapFrog videos! They're fun and exciting for them. I use to sing the songs w/her and ask her sounds and which letters they were when the movie was on!(They are about ten dollars each at Walmart or Target...you may even be able to get them online for less. Ebay) I hope this helps! Don't expect him to be able to write a letter to Grandma next week though! Remember most boys have a shorter tension span than girls, girls tend to be more calmer! In kindergarten they will need to count to 100, write to 20 and recognize numbers 1-30 by the end of kindergarten. Plus write thier names and some small words....cat dog bat! He has plenty of time to learn it. Don't worry or push too much. The more you push the less he will like it or want to do it. The key is to make it fun and exciting and he will learn it faster! They also repeat it a lot in preschool and kindergarten so they will remember it eventually! You are in no way hurting him educationally by not having him know his letter or even his name in writing. They learn all that stuff in preschool and kindergarten! Don't worry about it. Try to have fun with it and your son and it will come! Take care!
M. S

You're not a loser parent. I think ultimately parents who push their kids too much, too early, will end up being loser parents.

Another mom just posted this same request. Relax. Let your kid have fun at preschool. That's what they should be doing in preschool anyway, playing, not writing letters to grandparents.

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