Last month when I wrote on how to get kids to read, I got a few mails from parents saying, ‘reading is still ok, how do we get our kids to write?’ To quote one mom, “I’d love to hear about your original untainted views on how to get a child to love/like writing or at least write for school work. My son hates it and my daughter is following in his footsteps.”
And I thought, “Oh, oh!”
Reading is one thing. But writing…. even well known authors, who write reams and reams each day know that writing is another ball game. I’ve long stopped writing—as in taking a pen and jotting down thoughts. I cannot ‘write’ unless I have a screen in front of me and a keyboard.
Writing has tremendous benefits and it is important that we encourage our kids to put pen to paper, so to say. There are some rules to writing too. Schools put them into practise at the pre-primary level for very good reasons.
1) Brain development proceeds cephalocaudal, proximodistal. Which means, the human body development proceeds from the head and moves to the lower parts of the body. In this developmental progression, gross motor skills and competencies take place before fine motor skills do. Thus a child first gains control over the upper trunk, then arm control and finally control over the fingers. This is the reason why before children start to write, they are first made to do activities that strengthen their gross motor skills through eye-hand-coordination games of catching the ball, or playing with large blocks and then proceed to working with their fine motor skills: threading, playing with sand, etc.
2) Indian parents are fixated with ‘mere-bachche-ne-kya-kiya-aaj school mein syndrome. They feel satisfied only after they see that their child has written reams. Fact is, a child should not be forced to hold a pencil and write until the age of 7. Sight learning, reading, music and movement,…there are many ways of learning other than writing. From age 3 to 7 each parent or teacher or care-giver must do as many activities to strengthen the fine motor skills. Strong finger development ensures long stints of writing without the complaint of ‘my fingers are paining’.
Once your kids have strong fingers, writing should not be uncomfy.
When wirting is kept on hold, until the age of 7, children actually look forward to writing and then writing does not become a chore. Writing should not begin and end in the classroom. Once you remember that, keep these tips in mind. There are a number of activities that you can do to make writing glamorous: