Ready, Steady, Write!
“Never give to the mind more than you give to the hand” - Maria Montessori
Most parents want their child to start writing as early as possible, which is understandable. However, if the child is not ready and has not developed related skills, they will become frustrated and lose confidence. Better progress is achieved if the child first builds a strong foundation in grasp refinement.
Keep in mind that children’s hands must go through a series of developments before they are able to hold a pencil. Preparation of the pencil grip starts in infancy. When it comes to early writing skills, the Montessori Method is very suitable for developing these skills.
Most of the materials provided for infants and toddlers are for facilitating them to coordinate movements and strengthen both fine and large motor skills, which are both needed for writing.
Montessori Practical Life
Montessori Practical Life activities are the best pre-writing activities! These activities are familiar and engaging to the child and give them the motivation to achieve certain goals such as transferring, beading, scooping, pouring, pin punching, opening and closing their own containers or smaller boxes, manipulating play dough and squeezing sponges – all activities promoting the development of the muscles and movements in both arm and wrist, needed for writing. Also working with puzzles or knobbed cylinders help develop their grasp for holding a pencil.
The child learns to separate and classify forms, colours, textures, tastes and smells. All these help the child with skills for pre-reading and pre-writing. For instance, knobbed cylinders are a great exercise for developing the prewriting muscles of the hand, hand-eye coordination and visual discrimination for various sizes and forms.
Art activities, such as painting and drawing, are useful as the child practices their skills of holding and manipulating for example a paintbrush, pencil or crayon. Colouring, painting, cutting and gluing are all activities that make the child use his or her small muscles in both hands and fingers, and the larger muscles needed in the wrist and arm.
The sensitive period for writing
Children often become more interested in writing between three and four years old. It is very important at this age to establish a strong foundation. Typically, the sensitive period for writing emerges between 3.5 and 4.5. The Montessori method for pre-school writing begins with tracing exercises. This can be viewed as a game, and quickly develop the motor skills needed to hold and use a pencil, promoting pencil control and writing direction.
Literacy involves the association of symbols with sounds and words. It means learning symbols and decoding them into ideas. Children begin learning the letter sounds using sandpaper letters, which incorporate three senses when presented to the child, that is; the child touches the letters by tracing its shape with their fingers on a textured sandpaper inscription, and; simultaneously they hear what the letter sounds like at the same time as they see its form/letter shape. Through this approach of involving of the three senses, the child’s memory skills are being encouraged when s/he eventually will try writing that letter on paper.
Once foundational hand strength is developed, it's time to direct the child's work with pens and pencils by introducing them to a collection of coloured pencils and metal insets. Instead of plodding through tedious handwriting worksheets, they are intrigued by the coloured pencils and start using them to trace shapes, draw parallel lines or make patterns and more. Children love to colour and create artwork, practicing a skill that they will later use to write. Through doing this, the child learns to use and control writing tools while expressing themselves in a creative way. When the child combines this skill with the previously mentioned ones, they joyfully discover how to write letters on paper.
Noush is part of Little Gems team and is not only a dedicated Montessorian but also an artist. She shares her skills of different art techniques with the children on a daily basis encouraging them to try different tools and mediums to encourage their creativity - all of what helps develop several skills including, writing. If you want to learn more about pre-literacy & literacy, get in touch!
firstname.lastname@example.org. 22 351319. www.littlegemsmontessori.com