Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Encouraging children to write

Writing is not just about penmanship. It's also about the ideas written and the organisation of these ideas. This is also called effective writing. A good reader is a good writer, and a good writer can rule the world because hey, a pen is sharper than a sword, right? *chuckle*

Anyway, in this post, I'll just focus on penmanship as it is one of the basic skills needed in effective writing. Just like reading, the physical act of writing needs to be taught from young. Hence, besides teaching young children how to read, we should also teach them to write.  Different children have different milestones at different times. Some children could read by the age of 3. Others could read a little later or much later, like age 5 or 6. How about writing? Some people think that writing is more difficult than reading, but I disagree. I think some children pick up penmanship more easily than reading.

Which is better? That is an invalid question. It doesn't matter which comes first as long as the child could master both by the time he/she enters the Primary (elementary) school. So don't just focus on reading, parents! Let their hands do some work as well. The act of writing activates various mental processes so rest assured, writing has its benefits on the brain development. Reading and writing work hand-in-hand to enable the child to write effectively, such as writing a creative story with a logical flow.

In a study done by Longcamp et al (Longcamp, 2005), children aged 4-5 who copied letters by writing for three weeks recognised the letters better than another group of children of the same age range which copied the letters by typing for the same period. It strongly suggests that the mechanical act of writing has great benefits on the brain development. This is also an implication that computers and tabs should be put away from pre-schoolers. 

Young children are easily fascinated by writing materials. Therefore take this opportunity to encourage them to scribble. Give them some crayons and pens. Recently, I provided my 2.5 year-old son with a small notebook to make him feel that he owns it. He's more encouraged to scribble and doodle in his little notebook.

Giving young children drill worksheets (see below for an example) may be a good method to teach them writing. However, don't spend too long on these worksheets. A 5-minute session for it every day will do. Of course! Would you want to spend so much time on it if you were the child? At least I know I wouldn't!

So the take-away message for this post is teach your children to write since young, as early as when the child is able to hold the pen steadily. Allow and encourage them to scribble and doodle freely besides just teaching them to write using drill worksheets.

Last but not least, take care of your passports!


Longcamp, M., Zerbato-Poudou, M.-T., & Velay, J.-L. (2005). The influence of writing practice on letter recognition in pre-school children: A comparison between handwriting and typing. Acta Psychologica, Volume 119, Issue 1, Pages 67–79.



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