In reading through a couple other requests/advice columns it seems that a lot of moms have 3 year olds that are already writing their letters. My son is 3 1/2 (turning 4 in April) and can only legibly write like 4 or 5 letters freehand - mainly straight line letters like T, H, I, A and L. His fine motor skills with other things are actually pretty good but it seems to be hard for him to do the writing. He can trace the letters fairly well on those little dotted line worksheets. He is doing very well in other areas, and has already mastered the independent sounds of about 10-12 letters but I am wondering if I should be worried about the writing part. Just as a note it is difficult for me to even get him to try to write the letters freehand, he doesn't seem to want to do it unless I make dotted lines for him. Any advice/thoughts? Thanks! :)
I am a kindergarten teacher, don't worry he is fine. It's okay for him not to write freehand, you are doing very good if you are already helping him hold the pencil correctly. I would suggest to make big letters and let him fill them with macaroni or color them. You might do a letter or two, then say "let's practice doing it with a pencil" or something like that. You can also use side walk chalk and let him do it on the cement. just keep in mind that he is young and you do not want to push him to the point he is going to hate writing.
Get him the Winnie the Pooh video about ABC's. It features Tigger teaching Pooh and Roo to write their letters, and shows some very simple ways to write, e.g., "first go down, and then around." My grandson was under 3 when i showed him this video (I had been teaching him letters for fun since he was under a year, and by the time he was a year he knew them all, and could do phonics by the time he was 2--if you do it as a little game, it's easy! "How does 'moon' start? With 'mmmmmm'--M!"), and the next morning he got up with his chalkboard and was writing, saying, "First go down and then around," and has been writing ever since! Good luck! R.
Please stop worrying about his writing skills, give him lots of fun things to do, strengthen your loving acceptance of him, and do art projects WITH him. That is the way to get him to practice using his hands and fingers, then maybe in a year or so he will want to write. Play dough and finger painting and learning to use scissors - make fringe and oh so many other things to do. Go to the library and check out some art books for young children.
I know how you feel, I wanted so much to hear my children's and their children's voices and hear them join in with the singing and fun of talking. I, also, have wanted to see my children's and grand chidren's writing and see them develop that way. It is hard to wait, there are lots of other hard things to wait for or to wait until they are over. Just do not allow yourself to miss any of the glorious moments that are happening right now. They will mature and do all this stuff.
The other day I was watching my 9 month old gr granddaughter as she was expecting her lunch to begin momentarily. She was getting anxious and started thinking how to hurry things up, finally she reached toward my daughter and cupped her hand and took it quickly to her mouth. A baby sign !! How cute and smart !! If I had been cleaning up the dishes instead of watching I would have missed it.
Absolutely not. I really don't think that kids this young possess the motor skill to successfully write letters. Around 4 1/2 I would start encouraging him to write his own name - upper and lower case letters. This is an important skill he will need for Kinder. Focus on other motor skills - lacing cards, cutting with scissors, gluing cherrios to a paper etc. . . If he shows interest in letters, then encourage the activity and make it fun. Dotting out the letters is a great way to get started. You can also put shaving cream on a cookie tin and let him write letters in it. Lakeshore has a computer software program that gives you fonts that dot the letters out. It is a little pricey ($35) but with 3 kids, I think you will get your money's worth. I also did a lot of letter activities with my kids. Letter of the day, find things around the house will letter "A", gluing beans to a letter B made from construction paper, collages from magazines . . . you get the idea. Also, my 3 year old loves Super Why on PBS. It is a great show and she is learning her letters quickly.
Thirty years ago, five year olds in kindergarten were just working on socialization and fine motor. Now we are doing this with three year olds. Our expectations of children are perhaps beyond their developmental capabilities. Studies show that reading really clicks in for 7 year olds, but we expect kids to read at 5 now. The children who really become readers at 7 show no signs of delay in comparison to the kids who have been reading since 5 according to a neighbor who is a Phd in ed. and is a literacy specialist. (Check studies regarding the country with the highest rate of literacy - New Zealand. They start guided reading instruction at 7.) Now for my advice for what it is worth...don't push too hard. He will stop liking the activity and it will become a battle. Write letters in sand, shaving cream, in the air, or not at all. Does he really need to write at the age of 3 and 3/4?
No, not at this time. However if he is interested, then by all means, let him. My son is almost 3 and has some interest as well, he has started writing his name and I can tell you from experience at my daughters preschool (she is 5) they only start writing their names at 4/5 years old. The 4/5 year olds in her preschool class can almost all write their names and only a few actually write more than that. Provide writing tools and paper but I'd leave it at that unless he is asking for help.
NO, please don't pressure him. you are way ahead, even if others say they can do it. right now the best you can do is read with him, let him 'read' to you parts of his favorite books (that he's memorized).point out signs like, "look,it says 'stop' s, t, o, p" etc. reading and writing are natural and develop organically.
3 1/2 is awfully young to be writing letters. Encouraging him by making it a game is fine but I wouldn't push it. That's a sure way for him to learn to hate writing. It's far more important that he enjoy it at his own pace.
fwiw, learning how to read and write early is not a sign of intelligence. Most kids who learn early either have older siblings who are influencing them, or they just have a natural drive for reading and/or writing, or they have parents that push them. And they usually even out w/others during the school years. imho the bragging rights aren't worth it. He'll be reading and writing for the rest of his life. I think it's far more important to help make sure he enjoys it.
Good luck and enjoy his age! It passes way too quickly.
As an occpupational therapist mommy of a three year old, I can sense where there seems to be an expectation that kids so young already know how to write their numbers. However, there cognitive, motor and spatial skills are really too immature still at this age. So while many preschools emphasize writing and tracing, and some preschoolers master the skill, it is by no means something to expect from your child at this point. Rather, let hime build with legos and blocks, let him color and practice other skills (like getting dressed, eating with a fork and knife). The writing will come! By the way, A, H and T are hard letters to master! Good luck!
First, loose the dotted line worksheets! Worksheets are the single worst thing for preschoolers. Three year olds can begin to try to write letters, but some don't, and boys usually show less interest until around four. But burn the worksheets! I did one of my child development practicals in a head start class where the teacher insisted that the children do the letter tracing thing, and it does not help- the children who could do it didn't need the dots, and the ones who either can't or don't want to just shut down. I would say either drop the subject entirely- don't bring it up, but any time he draws a picture very slowly and carefully (and in large print) write his name. Once the pressure is off he will be more likely to be interested in doing them independantly.
Similarly, if he uses coloring sheets or coloring books, burn them too- they could be the cause of his being dependant on you to make him worksheets. Coloring books completely stifle creativity and present children with representations of things that they could never recreate, which makes them feel like their own drawings are inferior.
hi there R. :-)
just a thought: maybe he's just not ready. my nephew is in a charter school where they learn as they are ready. he is turning 7 in february and they only started learning letters last year. they are burning through material like crazy - and i think it is because they are developmentally just plain ready. he is lapping it up - no trying to make him do it or anything his class is totally motivated.
i guess it might be hard if you are in a school where it is pushed at an earlier age....
otherwise i wouldn't worry about it. plus every kid is ready for that stuff at different ages.... yet another thing to consider!
hope that helps. warmly, J.
My child was like that; she is now graduating high school. I was puzzled also, since her other abilities seemed to be coming along better. She began kindergarten in a class where only 3 could not already sort-a read! The teacher assured me she'd catch up, and she did. Even when she was very small, like your son, she could "draw" in detail, but seemed not real interested in forming alphabet letters properly. Someone told me 3 year olds can't "see" or "do" mentally diagonal lines. Their brains aren't sophisticated enough to do that yet. They just imagine that when you see it, you see what they see. My daughter learned to write in kindergarten, and enjoyed learning it there. She now buys books and is eager to be a math/music major. Praise anything he does with pencil, paper and books, and wait hopefully. Don't pull up the carrots to see if they've grown yet.
Relax, he sounds perfectly normal. I taught Pre-K and Kinder for a number of years before having my own 3 kids. Every child goes at his own pace, as you know, and your son sounds like a very typical bright 3-1/2 year old.
This sounds like it MIGHT be about wanting to write the letters perfectly , as opposed to simply not wanting to write. This is common ( in firstborns more than others), and many children just need reassurance that it's ok to get things messy, wrong, or otherwise imperfect. Ask yourself if you use words like "Good job" or "Good try" versus telling him how he can do it better. We so often inadvertantly put pressure on our kids by saying "this one is perfect!" or "that's the best ever!" Instead, try to keep your critiques low-key and casual.
Use the dots sometimes, ask him to draw the dots for you sometimes, and find creative ways to get him to write some letters here and there. A few ideas we've used: Get him his own notebook (let him pick out the kind he wants- lined is better, but anything will work at this stage). Also get some good colored pencils with erasers. Ask him to help you make lists. For example, you might say over breakfast, "Honey, can you help me make a list for the store?" And then help him spell a few simple words. Groceries, baby needs, laundry items, dinner ingredients,toys he likes, TV shows....
If he wants to just use the first letter, that's fine. And always let him know that you appreciate the help. Don't even mention the shape or condition of his letters- it's not important. What is important is that he begin getting comfortable with writing. Don't press it though, he's still young, and many children don't get interested until closer to 5.
Good luck with your new little one!
your son is fine. in fact, more than fine. and you should watch out that you don't rush him. it can turn into a reading disability later. my son was an early reader/writer and now has a lot of difficulty with it at age 9, as predicted by the learning specialists in books i read.
what's most important are gross motor skills and the relationship to perception ad space. so judging distance of an object in relationship to how fast he is moving--that sort of thing. so, he needs t play and play and play! that will help his reading come along nicely at a pace that is just right for him.
is he excited to trace over the dotted lines? does he like writing over the lines? i wouldn't worry about it, but watch him very closely to see how he reacts to writing with the dotted lines. maybe having the lines there, are more exciting and easier right now for him to do. maybe he feel insecure without the lines. or is it just that his interest immediately decreases when he sees there's no dotted lines? don't worry.
I have three children and when they were younger like your kids age they were so eager to write and had the same problems with not wanting to do the letters unless I wrote the dotted lines, so I asked a teacher friend of mine and she gave me the best advice she said that you have to make it fun for them so I would say to them lets do a craft for Grandma I would fold the paper like a card and then ask them what they wanted to say ie: happy birthday, happy grandmas day or I love you, and then I would tell them that the card would be so much MORE special if it came from them and I would write on a seperate sheet of paper the dictation they wanted fold it up and set it in front of them and told them to copy what I have written. They seem to think it so much more fun if you make it into a project and they tend to understand better and my kids would sit there for a while and make the card with there own writing and then they would decorate it with stickers and drawings, then when we would give it to Grandma of course it was such a big deal and grandma would put it on her refridgerator and they feel a sense of accomplishment and they want to do more because it made that person so happy. They were also exited when she would say "did you write this all by yourself ?" the minute the realize that they did all by themselves they will want to do more. Kids need the independance of working by themselves and getting it done in there own way. Hope this helps good luck with your little ones and Happy Writing.
Take a deep breath. Here's what I learned along the way. I have a 14, 8, and 6 year old children. Let your children be individuals. They will learn in their time. If you want to help, make it fun not a chore to have to get done. You are your child's world. How do you want to represent it? When my children were just starting out I would have paper on the table and be a writer.
When they see that you can, they will. Play, play, play!
I wouldnt worry much being that he is still young. But some advice i have is my son goes to a Carden School. They have a different way of teaching writing. They start out with all the "C" letters. I cant think of all right now but find all the lower case letters in the alphabet that have a "C" shape in them. Like a,c,d,g,o then when he masters those you can move on to other letters. It works well for our students at Carden. However that is in kindergarten. Like i was reading in the other advice is dont push if he is not ready. The best thing you can do is read books to him. Before you know it he will be reading them to you. There hands that young just arent strong enough to hold a pencil and make the letters. There are many things you can do to build his strength and endurance.
It sounds like he's not developmentally ready to write yet. Trying to make him do something he doesn't have the motor skills for will frustrate him. He may not have the patience and focus at this age to take on what he sees as a challenge. At this age he should feel a sense of accomplishment for the letters he can write, and not worry about the ones he can't. Every child's fine motor skills develop at a different speed. I think tracing letters sounds like good practice, but he's still got years before he hits kindergarden and will have to write on a daily basis, a lot of growth and maturing will happen in that time. I wouldn't worry about it too much. Just because other 3 year olds are doing it, doesn't mean you should expect it of yours!
You shouldn't be worrying about a 3-yr-old writing letters or knowing the sounds. Even if parents push their kids to write and recognize sounds this young (and it is pushing unless your child is highly gifted and wants to do it himself), it doesn't make them do better in school as they get older. The best thing to do is to read picture books to him, then talk to him about what you just read, and ask questions. For example, "What do you think will happen next?" BTW, I teach elementary school.
Oh my gosh, NO! He's way ahead. Whatever you do, follow him; don't push him. He needs to be focusing on mostly socio-emotional and self-regulation development prior to school. The rest will follow if he has a secure foundation. Lakeshore has a bunch of toy-like activities that can improve his fine motor skills. Here's one example. You can also find a lot of these at discountschoolsupply.com http://www.lakeshorelearning.com/seo/ca%7CsearchResults~~...
Please relax. Children develope interest and abilities at different rates. Don't worry about your son. My child did not write letters or anything else until she was 4 and 1/2 and she turned out to be VERY good at math. Just let him be a little boy, play with toys, etc., and in due time he will do fine I am sure.
Seriuosly don't push him. He'll get it when he gets it and if you push him too soon he is going to hate learning. 3 is early for writing but some kids can do it. And just because a child writes at 3, while cool, doesn't mean that child will always write well. My daughter wrote beautifully at 3. Now she is in 3rd grade and we had to ground her because her grade in writing, particularly hand writing, was low. I think she's just been doing it so long that she is getting lazy.
As an early childhood educator and former reading specialist, I would urge you and ALL moms to cease 'teaching' letters and letter sounds to your children under 5. Instead, I would be reading many and varied books, including ABC books to your children. You should first foster a love of reading and literature with your children by enjoying books together, listening to children's music, singing songs, reciting nursery rhymes....etc.. A desire to read and write will naturally emerge....Please stop teaching and begin playing with literacy. Have Fun!
p.s. utilize your library, thrift stores and garage sales
As a former first grade teacher, here are some ideas for practicing and learning letters:
1. Get one of those big, tin baking dishes that you use on Thanksgiving to roast the turkey in. Fill it up with sand and have him write his letters in there.
2. Smear some shaving cream on a table (that you don't mind getting messy) and make letters.
3. Use Play Doe to form letters.
4. Buy those plastic letters that go on the refrigerator and while you are making dinner, tell him to show you a certain letter. Ask him "what else starts with that same sound?" (Or you can do this in the bath tub.)
Do NOT stress out over him not being able to write his letters yet. Writing (and reading) is a developmental skill and he will get there. If you pressure him, he may resent it and come to hate it. Just have fun and don't compare him to other kids.
I really think that this culture places way too much emphasis on academic development in the early years. As an educator, I strongly believe that preschool aged children should spend their time PLAYING, inventing, pretending, etc...the academics will come soon enough. I do, however, think there are natural ways to introduce and reinforce letter recognition (pointing out letters on street signs, in the supermarket, in books, etc. etc.). Writing out a child's dictation of a drawing is also a great way for him or her to see that letters form words that tell a story. I don't, however, see that formal letter-writing practice is at all necessary for three-year olds. There are some fun ways for children to refine their fine-motor skills that don't involve worksheets--lacing, drawing, paper folding crafts, using kid scissors are some ideas.
Check out the book "Tumbling Over the Edge: a Rant for Child's Play" by Bev Bos, or anything else by Bev Bos. She is an early childhood development specialist working with preschool age children in Roseville, CA. Her focus on that age is work through play, storytelling, art and music. She says that "if they don't have it in their hands, they can't get it into their heads." This means they need real life experiences before you expect them to learn abstract lessons like numbers and letters. You might also investigate how Montessori and Waldorf schools deal with the kindergartes and pre-kindergarten years (and I'm talking about the under 7 year old set).
Don't push him, Robyn. Unless you are willing to sit with him and watch him write every letter so that he learns to write from the top - down and in the correct way, then don't push it. If he learns to do it wrong then it will impact his writing for the rest of his life both printing and cursive. Stick to the fine motor, pre-writing skills - the mazes, connect the dots, staying between 2 lines. He should get the correct writing formation in Kindergarten or in preschool but you'll need to check this out. Learning letters incorrectly really does impact speed, legibility, spacing, etc. Try writing your letters from the line upward and see how efficient that is. My daughter is 4 and I won't let her write her letters yet. Those will come in time why rush him when you don't need to. Keep doing fine motor activities that prepare him to write. Good luck!
My name is A. my husband and I have 4 kids between us 18 to 9 months. I wouldn't worry about his writing ability. I was a pre-school teacher for a number of years and can tell you that his little hands/pincer muscles just aren't ready for writing. It's kind of hard in the scholastic pressure cooker we live in but relax writing is a very complicated skill.
You are just fine. Just continue to do what you are doing your child is where he should be at. By the time he gets into school he will be ready and know what the teacher is expecting from him. They are expecting a lot more from kids at an early age now so keep that in mind. You are at a good start. Keep up the good work mami!
I am a homeschooling mom of 5 kids. 3 girls are schooling now, the others are too young. I have 3 things to say about your sons development. He is very advanced to be at this point and knows what he does. You are doing a great job, being hands on. I have found that many moms and dads do not even know that their Kindergardener can read!! (I do day care)
Keep up the great work.
Just to add this... boys are much slower to grasp reading than girls (in general) some boys are incapable of reading until the age of 10-11. There is scientific evidence that a part of their brain doesn't develop until then. James Dobson speaks of it often.
According to the Pediatrician, boys develop their writing skills later than girls. Writing at 3 years old is pretty early, so I think your son is doing great. My son wasn't that intersted in writing either. He had to start writing in Pre-K when he was 4 because they now require writing in Kindergarten (at least in California). He was advanced in other areas but his writing wasn't that great. (He is also a Sept baby so he is the youngest in his class). We did some basic OT the summer before Kindergarten to help him learn to hold the pencil correctly. He is now half way through Kindergarten and writes pretty well. I also think he just naturally improved with age as your son will. So I don't think you have anything to worry about. He sounds like he's ahead of the curve and you don't want to push the writing on your son either. Tracing is the way they learn in Kindergarten so it's great that he wants to do that. In Kindergarten they have to learn to write on the lined paper so don't worry that he doesn't want to write freehand yet. He will gain more interest in writing once they start doing it in school.
You know, as Mother's we never can be sure what we don't know. This is why something like Mommasource can be so nice. Comraderie!
Im a teacher. I teach kindergarten...3,4,and 5 year olds.
If he wants dotted lines...give him dotted lines. He will do the rest when he is ready. I'm not sure where to find it, but there is a font online that you can download that is dotted lines. You write the word and it kickes it out in dotted lines.
What kind of learner is he? Is he kinesthetic... Is he more audial or more visual? This will help you to help him learn the best way for him. Do not assume he learns the same way you do.
At any rate...he will learn it in his own time. Make it fun!
I wouldn't worry. My daughter is 3.5 years old and can write all of her letters and numbers, knows all of her letters and their corresponding sounds and her telephone number, etc. The reason she knows this is because she has been in daycare and preschool since she was 7 months old and has been exposed to these concepts for a long time.
I truly believe there isn't a problem unless a child has been introduced to a concept and hasn't been able to learn it after some time. If a 3 year old has never been taught the alphabet, it isn't anything to worry about as long as he catches on once someone teaches him.
I can remember years ago accompanying my sister and niece to a friend's home where we noticed that her child, who was the same age as my sister's child, could get all around the house quite well in his walker. When my sister placed her daughter in the walker, she looked around helpless and didn't know what to do. So my sister worried for a minute that her daughter showed the least amount of interest and didn't have a clue how to move her feet to get around in the walker.
After a short while, they placed their kids on the floor and an amazing thing happened. My niece took off all around the house half pushing, half scooting on her stomach using her feet and hands while the friend's kid looked on helplessly.
It clicked for me that day: my niece had learned to use the tools available to her, as had the friend's kid, who was often placed in the walker. Neither was deficient in any way.
My children are considerably older, so I am not sure what the norm is today, but this was the type of thing mine did in kindergarten. I was a volunteer, and I ran off reams of work sheets of this stuff. And in my experience, writing isn't so much a "boy" thing. I don't remember having issues with printing, but I know learning cursive was horrible for my son, but not for my girls. And, most of the people I know with pretty hand-writing (even printing) tend to be girls. I wouldn't worry too much at this point . . .
Wow! I'm impressed. My 4 1/2 year old is just starting to write letters now. He's never had any interest before. Personally, I don't think it really makes a difference in the end. It might help your child in Kindergarten if he already can write his letters. I think you should be proud of what he can do now and not try to compare him to what other kids are doing.
Learning letters, numbers, reading, etc. comes later. If learning is child-initiated great, but the major task of preschoolers is learning how to be in relationship with others. This means learning to share and thinking of others feelings. People also forget that play is learning. Pretend-play lets kids practice for the "real world". How about teaching our kids to pour themselves a cup of milk or help set the table? Perhaps our culture likes to focus on academics because it is measurable--my child can write x number of letters, knows how to count to x, etc. Measuring interpersonal skills is much, much more difficult!
Hi, My kids went to Montessori school when they were little, and there staff didn't believe in teaching kids to write until much later. They gave them letter pieces to play with, spelling out words and names on tables and mats. They also had the kids help in wiping off tables and counters in a circular motion to help them gain the muscle coordination needed for writing. This was much more fun than tedious writing practice. Writing just seemed to come naturally a bit later. And there's always tracing. I used to make dotted letters on lined paper for the kids to trace, such as notes for Daddy and Grandma, etc. That way they could "write" in response to notes and letters they received! I loved leaving them notes, especially on their sack lunch napkins1
Oh, you poor thing. Relax! My oldest son didnt' even know all of his colors when he started kindergarten, let alone be able to write letters. He is now in the GATE probram (5th grade) and reads at an 12th grade level. No need to push them, they all "get it" eventually. I would encourage reading moreso than writing anyways. Either way, your son sounds like he will be ahead of the pack when he starts school. =)
NO, its way to early, especially if he isn't really interested. If there is a day when he wants to do it, by all means provide the necessary tools for him, even with dotted lines. If you push him before he is ready (even overly encourage him) He will not enjoy school time when it really does come.
I'm not sure if you thought about this, but the main reason a person gets fired from their job is NOT the inability to perform their tasks, but their inability to get along with others. At this age the most important "job" for your child is to grow socially and emotionally. Take him on play dates. Teach him to sit still for book time. Let him discover the world. This is his "job" not writing. That comes in time. Are more things required of Kindergarteners these days? Yes, but don't worry you still have a couple years.
About me: Worked in preschools and elementary schools off and on for the last 14 yrs. Have 2 excellent kids/students in Jr. High and Elementary.
Are you kidding? Not to sound sexist, but a young male child sitting that long to write a few letters on his own is a feat in and of itself!!! What are you worried about dear? My son wrote his name, barely legibley mind you at the very end of his fourth year. Keep up the dots but do not keep worrying!!! As someone who has worked with young children for many years, he is way ahead of the pack.
My opinion, you shouldn't have to force it. As for doing the dotted lines and things, think about using the Kumon line of educational books. They look fantastic for someone like your son. The one for capital letters for 3-year-olds starts with just practicing straight lines, then the angular letters, and so forth. But the neat thing is, instead of using dotted lines to trace, it's blocked like a runway, so there's plenty of room for those lines to be squiggly at first but still be successful at making the letter. I plan on using several of the Kumon books, I know you can get them at B&N.
I think you are doing a great job! He already knows some of his letter sounds and he can write some of his capital letters. I have been teaching 1st grade now for about 9 years and this year I have a Kindergarten and 1st grade combination class. He is doing better than some of my Kindergarteners! If he doesn't want to do it freehand other than dotted lines, try having him write his letters in sand using his fingers or a stick. You can also try using washable paints. That might be fun for him. I'm not sure if you are doing this already, but maybe have him practice writing his name to add more meaning for him. Keep up the good work!
I have a 6 year old in kindergarten, and it is the goal at the end of the year that the children be able to write their letters. They are not required, or expected, to write well, or much, when they get to 'big kid' school. My son was not at all into writing until the last 1/2 of his last year in preschool. Once he gets to kindergarten they will work on writing plenty... you'll see many of the worksheets. My advise to you would be to not worry about it, it will come soon enough. Your son is not behind, he'll be writing (then reading) before you know it.