It’s been a couple of weeks since I last blogged and the main reason for this is because I have been writing! It’s funny how one word can be open to so many interpretations. What is writing? For some it’s something they do every day without thinking so they can make lists, write notes, send emails etc. For others it’s something more, a way of expressing themselves. And for others, it’s something they really struggle with. Writing means many things to different people but whatever it is, it’s something we all want children to be able to do.
In its broadest sense, writing is putting marks onto a paper, canvas, computer or phone and others being able to read them and make sense of them. Put simply it is a communication tool.
The earliest form of writing took the shape of pictures – there are some amazing examples of this in the ancient caves around the world and of course the hieroglyphics of the Ancient Egyptians. For years these have been studied, interpreted and generally held up as marks of wonder.
When I was still teaching, many parents would come to me saying “All they do is draw. I can’t get them to write at home.” And by way of answer I would always use the above as an example. Plus, to run you have to be able to walk first, to make a fire you must first collect the wood and to write you must first learn how to make marks that represent objects.
Mark Making is a vital part of early writing and the Early Years Curriculum places huge importance upon it. Lots of activities can really help and here are a few that you can try at home…
- Play dough. This is perfect for developing muscles in your hands. Holding a pencil is much easier when your muscles are strong enough to control it. It’s also a lovely way to make letters and then make your name.
- Pegs. Pegging out the washing or making dens using pegs to hold material in place also helps to develop the muscles. Why are these muscles so important? Well, you only have to ask yourself, how much could you physically write before your hand ached? The use of computers has reduced everyone’s ability to write by hand at length.
- Painting. All children love to paint! Generally starting with splodges, then lines and circles and eventually recognisable shapes and objects. Writing follows the same pattern – splodges, lines and circles and eventually recognisable letters.
- Playing in the sand. Damp sand is the perfect place to encourage mark making. There is something in all of us whether we are 3, 30 or 93 that makes us long to write our name and draw pictures in the sand. Encourage this and use different objects for drawing with. I should point out that I’m not encouraging everyone to build a sand pit in their garden, this can be done just as easily in a relatively small tray with a bag of sand from the supermarket.