Young boys and writing

Happy New Year!

My three year old decided last week he wanted to write his name.

We’ve been asking him for a while to spell his name at dinnertime. Partly because we have a problem with him talking non stop at dinner time and asking him to spell his name gave us a definate time for him to stop talking. Then a chance for us to tell him to eat and partly because he’s been working on his letters at preschool and has been very proud of the letter of the week.

So here we are at dinner and he gets all the letters in the right order saying the last one with great comic timing to big applause from everyone. Much smiles and good feelings everywhere…if only we could get him to talk less and eat more. Stick a plate in front of him and the words to food eating ratio goes the wrong way. But I digress!

His older brother was busy doing some Thank you card writing for Christmas. I figured the MO might fancy writing his name on his Thank you cards. Whatever ‘writing his name’ meant for him. He got the first letter and made marks for the rest. You’d probably guess correctly the other letters except they were all over the page in the wrong order and when he ran out of space continued part of the letter at the top.

The letters made me smile.

He’s 4. Just 4 with a December birthday.

I was interested to read that we should be encouraging boys to do more ‘ mark making’ to close the gender gap by the time they are in school. Girls it seems like writing much more than boys so in the interests of keeping everything equal we need to make find a way for boys to do the same. The suggestions are fun and maybe appropriate– using sand, setting up boy role play activities that use writing, chocolate powder, and make marks on the floor and walls outside but what if they are……………..perish the thought……………….just not ready yet developmentally?

One of the problems with targets set in mainstream school is that it always leads to a looking back. If they have to be able to write their name by aged 5, for random example. Then they need to have learned their letters before then……….when? then if they need to know their letters by X then they have to be able to write their letters earlier or around this time too…and so it goes on. Preschools and nurseries now need to ( in some countries Government introduced compulsory programming) make sure ALL their children are reaching the targets EQUALLY.

I don’t know how this accounts for those children who don’t fit.  Are they failures because  “Craig aged 5 is unable to write his name compared to Tanya”?

Yes we want to bring everyone on and no we don’t want the gaps widening but surely there can be some flexibility?

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  1. hmm, I think I have issues with this, especially about closing the gender gap. You see boys and girls are just wired differently, why raise the boys to the girls level. maybe it is time to allow a gap to be there in the knowledge that things will balance at a later stage. I agree that gentle encouragement to make large moments with arms and being creative, but I dont think that there should be so much emphasis on the educational learning until at least 6. I truly believe that learning through play or just even play should be fostered. Push early writing too much and I fear that inability will put boys off for a long time.
    .-= TheMadHouse´s last blog ..That Back to School Feeling =-.

  2. I tweeted my response, but figured that comments help you 🙂

    the WHOLE handwriting thing bugs me. 6yo DS comes home from school w/ “graded” handwriting. Who CARES? I know plenty of successful adults w/ terrible handwriting. So what? DS doesn’t pass 1st grade bc his y’s don’t always go under the line?luckily his teacher will grade, then be sure to tell us that handwriting grades mean nothing 🙂 Still, annoying. Handwriting is a fine-motor skill, not a sign of intelligence or whatever. Boys (my son included!!) are way more likely to have fine-motor delays. Since girls are more likely to have gross-motor delays should we give them an extra push in preschool so they can kick balls as well as boys? :p

  3. I didn’t get around to blogging on this – maybe I will tomorrow… but I agree we can provide opportunities for boys but we cannot get children to do things they are not developmentally ready to do.

    I would rather my child was “behind” at five but really enjoying the learning and school experience than being forced to write and hating every minute of it – the child who isn’t developmentally ready will eventually catch up if the stimulus is there, the child forced to write will not carry on trying.
    .-= Elaine´s last blog ..Money Lessons for Children =-.

  4. I agree. I think children learn things when they are ready for that – my son is just becoming interested in letters and recognising/writing his name at 4 y.o. (in October). I know a few girls who know and can do a lot more writing than that – but I’m not bothered, my son is more interested in numbers for a start … I can’t make him learn letters, but I’m sure that he will want to soon.
    .-= Catherine´s last blog ..introducing photography to a preschooler =-.


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