Writing: quality or quantity?
by Elize vdM
(Pietermaritzburg, KZN, South Africa)
Adam is 5 years and starting to write the letters that he is learning. I found that he has a funny way of wanting to start at the bottom of each letter, and sometimes turn the letter around to face the left side instead of right - so he tends to want to write from right to left.
We concentrated on A,B,C and D yesterday (revision of the previous four weeks) but writing only three or four of each and doing it very, very nicely - large and controlled, instead of doing ten or more of each letter. Is that right?
Should I be worried about him wanting to write from right to left and changing the letters around?
Charlotte Mason said: "First, let the child accomplish something perfectly in every lesson––a stroke, a pothook, a letter. Let the writing lesson be short; it should not last more than five or ten minutes. Ease in writing comes by practice; but that must be secured later. In the meantime, the thing to be avoided is the habit of careless work..."
and"Secure that the child begins by making perfect letters and is never allowed to make faulty ones, and the rest he will do for himself; as for 'a good hand,' do not hurry him; his 'handwriting' will come by-and-by..."
So, in a nutshell, three beautiful and correctly formed letters is better than 10 that are sloppy or incorrect.
Your child is a beginner writer, so there is no need to be overly concerned about the letter reversals, however, your task is to avoid him developing bad habits and to train his memory to form the letters correctly. This takes time and practice, so you need to oversee all his handwriting practice.
It is quite normal for children to do some letter reversals and even mirror writing in the beginning, but by about grade 3 these errors should become less frequent.
You could draw an arrow from left to right across the page to help your child remember that this is the direction in which we read and write in western languages.
In the meantime, you can also do activities with your children that re-inforce their ability to determine left and right.
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