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Hi everyone hope you have had a good xmas. Just wanted to chat about writing in the FS this topic keeps cropping up at school and would like to hear others views. When the children attempt to write and then give meaning to their work i write what they have ascribed to their mark making underneath their work after praising their efforts. I see this as modelling writing for the children i then judge whether the child can trace over my writing and in turn if they can go further and copy my writing. How far the task is taken depends on each individual and their concentration span. Please can you tell me what you think about this process the children are happy and since the majority of them are EAL the more opp they have to see letters formed is better for them however some adults think it is a pointless activity scribing, tracing and copying.

 

happy New Year

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I'm sure this topic will interest many as we all have our own ways of approaching writing and hold firm views on how it should be done.

I can only talk for myself, but I am not a fan of tracing and copying letters. I can see value of scribing and indeed incorporate this into my teaching daily.

I sit down with each child and talk about what we are going to write and i use a laminated phoneme prompt sheet. the children tell me what phoneme they can hear and if they don't know what it looks like we use the prompt sheet to try and find it. After looking at what the phoneme should look like and writing it in the air etc, they then put it down on paper to the best of their ability.

I do scribe what they have written afterwards and we look at things like - they may have spelt baby, baybee, because we have been looking at the ee phoneme. Here we would address how they have used the correct phoneme but it isn't spelt that way etc.

I don't then get them to trace or copy because due to the discussion we have before the writing i know where they are anyway. But if it works for you then it works, everyone has a diffrerent method, it just doesn't sit right with me that's all.

Hope that makes sense.

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Hi, well i do writing with my child just lik yourself. letting the chilren write over my writing whih i do using a yellow highlighter. The child then will have a try o copy my writig. Over the last 2 years i have seen children progress well using this method , children have progressed from been below average to average and average to above averag. At parents evenng parents have commented on how pleased they were in their childs progress in wrting. Therefore I will contine with mynew children in using the same method.

Hope you all had a lovely xmas i did 0258 x x :oxD

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There is a link on the home Page to' Mark Making Matters' which makes interesting and valuable reading.

In my experience writing is an area in which children develop more slowly than in other areas of learning. It is a difficult skill and is made up of several components, composition, phonetical knowledge, letter formation and punctuation. I think the most important area to develop first is that of composition, as obviously children need to be able to say something that they wish to write. I think letting the children have a go, valuing their own mark-making and sometimes scribing for the children is very valuable, as children often have a lot to say. Having to try to write it all down themselves would be an impossible task in the early stages. It also serves as modelling so can be used one to one, with a small group or the whole class. I do not like tracing and copying. This turns their composition into a handwriting exercise, and there are other ways of developing letter formation. The problem with tracing and copying without supervision is that the children may start each letter wherever they like, which can defeat the object. I think we have all seen children who can form letters beautifully until they then do a piece of 'free' writing and then their 'lovely' handwriting goes to pot as they try to concentrate on several things at once. Bit by bit the phonics, letter formation and composition come together as the child becomes more proficient at these.

In my opinion we expect too much too soon in terms of writing considering the complexity of the task.

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writing is such a big issue isn't it - we all know in our hearts we shouldn't be pushing as early as we do but working in a school you feel the pressure to promote writing from a very early stage.

 

we do both of the sorts of writing described by Raz but keep them as separate activities - when we are writing for a purpose / developing composition skills an adult/puppet will model the type of writing and the chidlren will make their own attempts at writing. they are encouraged to read this back and the adult will scribe this underneath.

 

tracing and copying activities are kept separate for several reasons - I believe if it is to be worthwhile it should be a 1-1 activity so the adult can ensure the child is able to start in the correct place and follow the right formation. It is an activity which is only started once children are assessed as being ready so for most chidlren is near the end of the nursery year/ start of reception and children learn their names in this way.

 

It is a very formal activity but one our school felt was important as we had an issue of children learning their names too early and forming the letters in any way they could then getting stuck with incorrect letter formation much later on in school. By engaging parents in the process of developig early mark-making skills and showing them how to introduce their child's name correctly once they are ready we have started to reduce this.

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Hi there,

 

I also use a highlighter quite a lot, always 1-1, so that I model and can observe how the child holds the pencil and ensure that they start at the correct place. Sometimes other children watch and want to 'do writing', so for these I do highlighter zig zags, or waves.

 

I also believe that pre-writing skills are vital, so developing the three digits using buttons, zips, fastenings of any kind, picking up small items such as peas, buttons and so on are activities that I would go back to if I think the child is not physically ready for holding a pencil. I quite agree that it is important that children are ready and start by correct formation, so that they don't have to unlearn incorrect formation. Sand trays, shaving foam and so on are lots of fun and easily wiped off.

 

I know this is a very sensitive issue, none more so than with parents so we have lots to consider!

 

Regards

Lesley :o

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Interesting discussion. Hope you are able to clarify your thoughts, Raz. Writing is so complex!

 

We were told by an an advisor not to scribe underneath a child's writing as that devalued their attempts. She advised that we comment against it, so that its content could be remembered.

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What an interesting discussion - just to throw a parent's point of view into the mix - my son is 5 and just started reception and I would have been horrified if I thought he was being asked to trace letters or correctly form the letters of his name at the end of nursery/beginning of reception. He has been put into the top group and joins with year 1's for question time because of his level of understanding - this is what's important to me and not the fact that he can't write his name properly. I do completely appreciate that teachers are under pressure from schools/ofsted and parents especially but I do think their needs to be some re-education of parents with regards to early mark making.

I looked after a 4yr old boy last year who's parent really wanted him to learn to write correctly. It meant that this child would not engage in any mark making activity what so ever beacuse, in his words, "I can't do it right" - :o

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rcn I agree with you so much!

 

Writing is a skill that comes long after reading and there is a good book out at the moment from the Basic Skills Agency written by Elizabeth Jarman and called Communication Friendly Spaces and in there they talk about writing 'floating on a bed of speaking and listening'. We use the role play and all the other interesting ideas you see on this forum to encourage speaking and listening. We use Write Dance to get all the gross and fine motor skills ready for the sectrtatrial skill of writing and we alos model writing. We do shared writing sometime most days and we have writing opportunities in all areas for the children to develop their own compositional skills and then we do guided writing with them in small group time.

 

If I ever have to write on a child's work I will use the same medium as they have used and ask first if they mind! Our children love writing and those that are ready are doing well.

 

I really do believe we need to inform parents, Ofsted and sometimes our own senior management teams what is appropriate for children aged between 48 and 70 months!

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Hi again,

 

I have re-read all the messages on this thread and had another look at the EYFS. I think the original question was about handwriting as distinct from writing. Markmaking, drawing and writing for various purposes are creative, pre-writing skills that children develop prior to handwriting, which is about the actual physical/mechanical forming of letters. I quite agree that the thought of children 'being made' to form letters is dreadful and hopefully something that doesn't happen in any of our pre-school settings!

 

This topic looks as though it will run and run!

 

:o

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I quite agree that the thought of children 'being made' to form letters is dreadful and hopefully something that doesn't happen in any of our pre-school settings!

:o

 

In the main I agree with this statement. I think a formal approach with young children is not desirable at all. But if a child is frequently writing his/her name confidently and continues to do so in Nursery, then there is a place for occasionally intervening and demonstrating how a letter should be formed, if it is incorrect. I know how difficult it is for deeply ingrained habits to be corrected later on, which can hold up a child's natural flow when learning cursive writing. Sensitive practitioners who know their children well can do this without discouraging a child from wishing to write.

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In the main I agree with this statement. I think a formal approach with young children is not desirable at all. But if a child is frequently writing his/her name confidently and continues to do so in Nursery, then there is a place for occasionally intervening and demonstrating how a letter should be formed, if it is incorrect. I know how difficult it is for deeply ingrained habits to be corrected later on, which can hold up a child's natural flow when learning cursive writing. Sensitive practitioners who know their children well can do this without discouraging a child from wishing to write.

 

I'm not sure but this may be useful

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What an interesting discussion - just to throw a parent's point of view into the mix - my son is 5 and just started reception and I would have been horrified if I thought he was being asked to trace letters or correctly form the letters of his name at the end of nursery/beginning of reception.

Hoorah! However the problem is that you're not typical of the parents most of us deal with! :o Although of course you know that from your own experiences with the child you talked about - how a parent's expectation about what their child can/should do can seriously damage a child's self esteem.

 

Writing/handwriting is something I really struggle with - I just wish someone would tell me to do so that I can say with confidence that I'm doing the right thing... xD

 

Maz

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In Preschool we let children progress as they want to. There's a white board if they want to write their name when they come in, and several of them do, some supported by an adult and some freehand. What I do say though, is that if they are going to do it, then they should form the letters as they should be formed - even if they look nothing like! It's very hard to 'unlearn' incorrect formation and it only takes a little encouragement to get the method right

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Thanks for that Marion. I noticed quite a lot of capital letters on the examples. One of my key children in particular uses mostly capitals, even though she has no problems recognising or sounding lower case letters. She always writes her name in capitals (by the way she has a marked trajectory schema preference) and adores writing. What does anyone do about this, if anything?

 

:o

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When you read through this thread we are all more or less agreeing aren't we?

A useful chart from Marion. In the LA I worked for we all had something very similar to help us 'level' writing and support children appropriately.

I think children like capitals because they are easier to form, relying on many straight lines. What always amazes me is that young children can have a name card with a capital letter for the start of their name, lower case for the rest, in front of them, but copy it all writing in capitals.

I totally agree re correct modelling, sensitively and appropriately, but have had one or two disagreements with the 'powers' over this!

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I agree that children find it easier to form capitals but I also find that many of my children that write in capitals see their name written like this at home. Often the child's name on bookbags or envelopes from parents will be written in capital letters. It is really hard to undo this if it has started at home early on.

Once parents have had one child through our school we find that they then learn because they have experienced what we do in school. It's really difficult when a child's first experience of writing and letters is capitals.

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Absolutely! I mentioned this to a parent who'd just written LUKE on the registration board for his son! His son normally comes in with Mum and writes his name Luke quite easily. He looked very puzzled at his Dad and then looked at me, as if to say 'What have YOU and Mum had me writing all this time then!' I explained to his Dad and he rubbed it out and watched his son write his own name. I think he was flabbergasted! But he remarked to another, regular, Dad on his way out (who he knows) 'That's me told off this morning already :oxD

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I think children like capitals because they are easier to form, relying on many straight lines. What always amazes me is that young children can have a name card with a capital letter for the start of their name, lower case for the rest, in front of them, but copy it all writing in capitals.

 

I think I'm right in saying that in the US children are taught capitals before lower case for just that reason

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Yes they are Marion. What was that programme with a big yellow bird that my own children used to love? ( Senior moment :o ). I do think it is clever of young children to copy lower-case in upper-case.

I feel sorry for parents as we, me included, get very frustrated when they write everything in capitals or mispronounce phonemes, and not just the parents either! I once had an HT who came into my room and wrote for the children in capitals!! I have tried all sorts of ways to help parents support their children, information sheets, workshops etc. I think we all have to learn to live with these problems as they were all around when I moved into EY's donkeys years ago. At least those parents are supporting their children with their learning. Sadly I have worked with many who don't, or couldn't.

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Tina Bruce is a Professor and consultant, and author of books on Early Years Education. She has been influential in the development of the EY's curriculum. She is one of those authors on book lists which include Janet Moyles, Cathy Nutbrown, Margaret Edgington etc. Hers views sometimes challenge accepted practice, and always put the individual child at the centre of learning.

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My daughter's name is Anna and yes you guessed it, she wrote it AnnA. Her teacher let her continue until she was ready to use a lower case a. Children do find capitals easier to write and I have no problem with that. What is important is that children are confident to mark make and enjoy doing so. I find once children are confident they understand names only start with a capital letter.

We have have lower and upper case letter cards in the writing area so children can see a letter can be written in two ways(The lower case being under the same upper case letter).

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