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Mark Making In Early Years


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Unfortunatly I am being 'attacked' in another forum about my belief young children need to have lots of opportunity to mark make before they can learn to write!! :( i shouldnt take it personally cos they dont know me and I DO BELIEVE IM right!

However please could we have a friendly discussion about it here :)

Yr 1 teachers are saying we make it worse for them because boys are still 'mark making' with them and they should be taught to hold a pencil correctly before we provide mark making materials unless Im being 'stupid' and they dont mean that xD (the attack was a bit fierce) :( Am I missing something?

I will admit I jumped on board and was so angry on someones reply to somebody asking fro advice and told them they needed to get a life!of which i have apologised :o :wacko:

please I need my friends around me :( I am a nice person really BOO HOO

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:o I work in a preschool. But i believe if you push them before they are ready they will lose interest quickly. and i am sure if you give them the tools to copy letters they will use them when they are ready to. xD

 

daisy

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thank you for replying :)

But what i cant understand is -

If they dont have the opportunity to pick a pencil up in play how are we expecting them to sit at a table and pick apencil up as the advise asked was how we can encourage boys to mark make in play they are the least likely to want to sit at a table formally writing! :o

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I've just caught up with a number of threads on the OTHER forum and now remember why I dont often visit. Surely mark making is a stage before writing and doesnt have to involve holding a pencil correctly in fact experience with large mark making equipment should precede pencils. Until a child has the physical development to hold a pencil how can they hold it 'correctly'?

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thank you Marion :) I know I need to beable to take criticism and i am not totally convinced i havent fallen into a trap :o but nobdy seems to be backing me up and I was beginning to feel im totally clueless to what they are saying to me!i have total respect for people on this forum and KNOW I will get sound advice and have learnt a great deal by following the posts and putting these things into my own practise but there seems to be people over there that think we in early years have no mind of our own xD

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Hi

I totally agree with you mark making in my belief has always been a foundation for early writing and this is what our Ofsted inspectors have always said. I am so pleased that this Forum is not like the other one does not sound like a place I would like to visit!!!

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From what I can see there is a certain person on the other forum who deliberately tries to undermine the Foundation Stage Im not sure what their motive is and Im not fully convinced they are even a teacher. I've taught Y6, 4, 3, 2,1 and now in FS and believe me its much more demanding and far from needing people with no mind of their own it needs thoughtful caring practitioners.

 

Try not to let them get to you.

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It reminded me of a story my father told of his experience in infant school a very long time ago, when because he was left handed his hand was tied to the desk with rope to make him write 'properly'. Are they honestly advocating that we cant attempt something until we've first mastered all the associated skills?

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Andreamay,

I too believe very strongly all children need to be given the opportunity to make marks in play before formally learning to write!We provide many kinds of tools for the children to experiment with large and small.Luckily for us the Head of Foundation Stage in the school to which our pre-school is attached is also enlightened.However have I spent lots of time trying to convince doubting parents of the benefits of using large paintbrushes outside or providing opportunies for mark making in a role play garage over "teaching' their children to write using dare i say it worksheets!!

Stay true to your belief!

Bookworm.

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hi Andreamay,

I don't know what the other forum is, but i would agree that children need mark making skills before they can effectively hold a pencil correctly to start writing recognisable letters. If we go back to a stage of development in one of the early years thoeries, i can't remember which thoerist said it, may have been Bolby. but its about the building blocks if you take one out or move onto a different block the whole block will fall apart because there is a missing part, its the same in child development, to hold a pencil correctly a child's fine motor development has to be developed to enable them to hold the pencil, hope that makes sense. So as early year providers, we provide activities such as manipulating the play dough and clay, making marks with fingers in the wet sand try and shaving foam activities and so on, we provide a role play area with for example, clip boards and pencils and other writing media, to encourage boys, we provide a role play area such as a garage shop, with clip boards to mark make what the cars are, from colours to size. Dinosaur counting area, again with clip boards near by to mark make how many small dinosaurs they can count and so on. Once the fine motor skills are well developed then we can progress on to holding a pencil 'correctly'. Some of the boys i have in my room still have the 'grasp' hold so we are working on moving onto the 'pincher' hold. In my room there are plenty of opportunities to develop pre writing skills and when the children start to form letters, then i step up a level and introduce them to alphabet activities, i have a book called we can write our names, which is out every day and the children are free at any time to get their name card and practise writing their name in the book, i have alphabet flowers on a different table, where children have access to paper and various types of writing media to practice letter writing when they have reached that stage.

I can understand teachers not thinking alot of early years practitioners as years ago most of us were mumssetting up in a play group to 'play' without really knowing why we were doing it. But after being in early years for over 20 years, there is a big big big difference now. We have to be qualified to a level 3 or above standard which is equivelant to 3 A'Levels and we have to know about the back ground to childrens development. Teachers donot always know about the back ground to childrens development. I only know this as i work with a teacher, who although working with pre school aged children had never heard about 'Schemas' and did not know about the building block theory amongst other early years development, which i was quite shocked at, as i thought having a teachers degree they would have done. I am not saying all teachers are not aware, i am only talking from one teacher i know here in England and two teachers i used to know in British forces Germany. So as early years practitioners we specialise in that very subject 'early years'. I believe if children are pushed before they are properly developed to do something it can harm their development. I hope this all makes sense without offending anyone. :o

Rosepetal :)

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Marion I love you :) you are wonderful! I knew it was you! :o the way you put it accross I thought that sounds like Marion! :)

You know I worry at my inability to put accross what I mean in a educated sophisticated way! As Im starting the foundation degree this year :(xD I did get olevels in eng lang, and lit but it was a very long time ago!!

Thank you Bookworm I knew i was right like marion says I dont know if it can be for real can it?

There are very sad people who just go from forum to forum causing trouble that is why having to pay or reg with your local authority password works!

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Well explained Rosepetal.

Of course children need to mark make before they are introduced to writing, in the same way that babies wriggle their legs getting ready to walk. They not only need to develop their muscles but, as in everything else, they need to play at writing- play equals learning equals 'work 'if you like. FS2 is not Y1 and the Foundations are put in so that Y1 can begin their job- but developing children from where they are at the end of FS, and they are all different, is their job not ours.

I do actually believe that children should be shown how to hold a pencil etc. in the same way that they are shown how to hold and use any other tool. I would demonstrate to a child how to use a tool but not try to put the child off either if it didn't do that all the time. But before we start the holding a pencil correctly debate, I am not advocating forcing children to use the most common 'correct'grip, just showing them.

It can be very frustrating for teachers in Y1 etc. to have children who have mis-learnt letter formation, and are so set in their ways that it is very difficult to change them- especially when it affects learning cursive writing. These things have to be corrected so I can see where some of their criticisms are coming from. I also think that children need to be given lots of opportunities to scribble and develop anti-clockwise movements as well as clock-wise, but not pedantically, it should be fun.

For what it is worth my experience (anecdotal) has been that children who 'play write' and are not forced to write/copy/trace very early on, make better progress in Reception as they haven't mislearnt formation from whoever makes them practice. I can then model these things myself to children who are more ready to learn as they have some understanding of the writing progress from their play, and want to get it right now.

And yes there are some wind-up merchants on the other forum as well as a lot of genuine posters.

 

There is a lot of pressure on staff in the maintained sector, from SMT, to do this and that to get them ready for the next class and the SATS. The pressure can come from ignorance of the FS and also pressure of targets and the SEF and OFSTED. A poor OFSTED can be devastating for everyone and the HT can loose their job if it is really bad, so the kind of stress put on people leads to all this blame culture. Even OFSTED inspectors don't always understand FS- I had one who critisied me because the Nursery children couldn't say what they were learning in the playdough- the HT then said it should only be out on Fridays!!!!! xD for a treat. My defence was that I knew what they were learning.

It can feel as if we are being blamed for every ill higher up the school, and it can be very frustrating and lonely for FS staff, especially when there is only one in the school, and everyone thinks we just spend our day playing. Well actually we do :o and we know that done well our children are learning exactly what they need. We understand it's value. Trouble is teachers who are not Early Years trained often just don't understand.

Rant over.

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oh I do agree Jacquie, writing is my big soap box at the moment. I'm concerned about the amount of name tracing and copy writing the children are doing especially in nursery.

 

I always in my head make the analogy that children when they first paint, tend to paint 'red' or 'blue' long before they paint anything representative, and then they progress to 'tadpoles' in their various forms before they paint pictures they we instantly recognise. Why should writing be any different? Do we ever say to children... 'well im not going to let you paint because you cant paint a proper picture yet?' No of course we don't, and I doubt those people in that other place do either.

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I'm not suprised Marion how dreadful. he could be a buddling Picasso or something, and surely the more he is allowed to paint with black the more likely he is to tire of it and move on. I do sometimes worry about the people who work with children who have these blips- no doubt she was wonderful at other things, but I don't worry about us of course we are all fantastic :D

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Interesting discussion and hopefully friendly!! (I'm off to the other side in a minute!!)

 

I have been researching writing recently following some comments made to us in school and in "Foundtaions of Literacy" by Ros Bayley and Sue Palmer they clearly state that a child is not ready to write until they can draw a figure without legs emanating from the head. As the majority of my class can not even do that, my focus for Ofsted next week is gross motor movements for writing! I will also be providing activities to develop fine motor control. Lets hope Mr Ofsted thinks likewise!!

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You know I worry at my inability to put accross what I mean in a educated sophisticated way! As Im starting the foundation degree this year :(xD I did get olevels in eng lang, and lit but it was a very long time ago!!

 

Never worry about putting across what you mean your commitment and passion for the FS clearly shows. Unfortunately some people seem to get pleasure from trying to appear 'superior' and in my opinion this only makes them bullies. (having said that I'm afraid I've resorted to a small snide reply :(:o on the other forum feeling very ashamed :( )

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Interesting discussion people, and good to know it can be held in a constructive way here - not that I'd expect anything else from you lot! :)

 

It would be good not to use this as a basecamp for raids elsewhere however. If other places don't want to entertain alternative points of view, shall we leave them in the security of their own absolute truths?

 

Don't want to see a forum war starting...

 

:o

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I see the wholemark issue as confidence building as well as development and so many (boys inparticular) are so reluctant to mark make.

we provide lots of none pencil based mark making such as sand trays, shaving foam, paint onf the table top and its amazing how many letters the children can clearly write using their finger tips eventually as their confidence builds they will move to the mark making table and give pencils a go and I would encourage by example how to hold the pen but I would never stop a child from mark making just because they are holding a pen wrong I have seen so many adults write quite effectivly using slight variations of grips and I cannt say I have seen to many leftys holding their pens the same either

 

I see it as achieving results in a way that suits the child not the adult one rule does not suit all

 

 

steve - :D:D with gandalf as an avatar you post made me think of a gang of hobits plotting a raid on a near by village some where in middle "foudation stage forum" earth

 

 

its late I should go to bed ........

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After following this thread I went to look for the "other forum" and this one IS much more friendly and supportive

I love the poem, Lessons by Geese, by Steve

and I think Marion was following lesson 5

If we have as much sense as geese ,we will stand by each other in difficult times, as well as when we are strong. I guess this what Marion was doing for Andreamay Steve! :D

(I hope this makes sense :o )

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I personally don't have time ( or interest) in other forums, this was the first ever forum I joined and is the sole one I use. :D

 

We don't make children walk before they can crawl

Upper arm muscles need to be strong to to 'support' the finger muscles used for pincer grip.

Children will want to write when ready and when they have something that inspires them to use this form of communication. ie: a reason to write.

 

Children need a 'sense of achievement' and there needs to be a sound balance of praising the 'content' of what they have written alongside praising the actual physical method, style ( ie cursive) and presentation( ie: neatness). To focus too much on physical, how they hols the pencil may make a person 'miss' the opportunity to value what has actually been written.

 

To undermine a childs attempts is detrimental.

 

When our children write an unrecognisable scribble on the top of their painting, I always praise, " Great, you've written your name, now I know who's picture this is" The squiggle is often repeated exactly the same on subsequant 'work' the child wants to identify as theirs. ( much like a signature). This builds self identity ( this mark is theirs and thiers alone), confidence, because their attempt hasn't been undermined by "no, you should write it this way", and then the child decides to look more closely at the formation of the letters they see everyday on their name labels ( for self registration etc) thus their learning and development for writing is self motivated. It is at this time we encourage pincer grip, being aware of whether the childs muscles have developed sufficiently to hold a pincer grip for a period of time without causing an ache.

 

Lovely, as I wrote the above, I pictured a particular child in my group who has recently enjoyed the sense of achievement for 'writing' his signature (as yet unrecognisable) I have found this 'signature' all over the setting and smile each time I see one as it tells me where he has been playing during the day. :D

 

I think the development of writing skills is so individual and needs to be seen as an extension of a childs individual personality. the styles they learn by can be so different ( if you see what I mean).

 

Peggy

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Sorry, I think you may have misunderstood my post (or I phrased it badly). I wasn't objecting to what had been said already - in fact, as you apparently weren't being allowed the view elsewhere without being attacked fairly personally it was great to see it being articulated so well here.

 

I was just conscious that the more members who found this conversation here and visited TES to chip in for the FS philosophy, the more likely it was to turn into a tag wrestling contest! :D

 

I think you made your points excellently - and yes, Marion was certainly doing the quality honking thing! :)

 

Edit: ooh - Rosina, nice of you to credit me with authorship of 'Lessons from Geese', but I'm just a fan of it, so adapted it to the FSFs philosophy. :)

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I don't think anyone here will disagree Peggy however the argument from the other forum is that the child you describe should be told in no uncertain terms that it isn't writing and only marks :o and even worse told "They can't bloody write" :(xD:(

One of our successes from becoming a FSU was that every single child in the unit considers themselves to be a 'writer' and to me that is far more important than perfect letter formation or conventional spellings. Personally I would rather have a class of highly motivated 'writers' to develop those skills with than a child who is afraid to try because they not sure they are doing it 'right'.

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I don't think anyone here will disagree Peggy however the argument from the other forum is that the child you describe should be told in no uncertain terms that it isn't writing and only marks xD and even worse told "They can't bloody write" :(:(:(

One of our successes from becoming a FSU was that every single child in the unit considers themselves to be a 'writer' and to me that is far more important than perfect letter formation or conventional spellings. Personally I would rather have a class of highly motivated 'writers' to develop those skills with than a child who is afraid to try because they not sure they are doing it 'right'.

 

 

I like that description: every child considers themselves to be a 'writer'.

 

My ignorance is in what would be expected, in terms of writing development, at KS1. However, each childs development ( or lack of) should be handled sensitively and from the stage the child is at. If a child / or children are not at the expected level, I would look at my expectations and if deemed to be appropriate, then look at prior opportunities offered. In my case, as a nursery, I would consider the childs home experiences prior to starting preschool, then provide what was missing, ie: opportunities for gross motor activities. It would be pointless to 'lay blame' on the parent in terms of helping the child.

 

Hopefully with the requirements of the new EYFS to link with other providers the discrepencies and misunderstanding between FS and KS will be sorted and we can all value and learn from each other for the best interest of the child. ( rose tinted glasses on again :o )

 

 

Peggy

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I have a 3 year old who wrote me the most wonderful letter (a series of different sized circles) which she read out to me ........great writing and in my humble opinion she is a 'writer' I have a 4 year old who drew me a lovely picture of my dog and wrote 'ms stry dog bsdr' (Mrs Storeys dog buster) again I think he is a 'writer' and another 4 year old who wrote 'One day a beeyouteefull butterfly came to scool.' another 'writer' and rightly or wrongly I celebrate each and everyone LOUDLY!

 

And I can't believe anyone would want to tell them they can't write!!!

Edited by Marion
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