Writing with flair and ease

At child care, parents must sign in their children when they drop them off, but there is also a sign-in sheet from the children to write their own names.

Here’s how Lillian signed in this morning:

She put little “curly wurlies” on all the letters.  Notice how she did so consistently throughout – almost as if she’d invented her own font.

For comparison, this is how other students – who are mostly 6 months or more older than Lillian – are scrawling their names:

Lillian is clearly streets ahead.  And the interesting part is that she is developing her skills herself.  I’d been under the impression that while children spontaneously learn to talk, writing was something they had to be taught quite explicitly, with patient instruction and tedious exercises.   But Lillian is learning to write through play activities of her own devising.  We just participate in her language games.  So for example on the weekend Lillian asked Teresa to write out various phrases (pretty butterfly, two fairies, etc.) so she could copy them out.   And in the car we spent the better part of an hour playing the “Starts with” game – one person says the name of an animal, and the other has to say what letter it starts with – or the “Rhymes with” game – one person says a word, and the other person has to come up with other words that rhyme with it (tree: knee, free, key, etc.).  Other times we play the “is that a word?” game where Lillian puts together sequences of letters and we tell her whether they make a word or not.  It seems, the way things are going, that her learning to read and write will be almost effortless for us.

On the weekend we spent a while sitting on the verandah at the farm “reading” a book on weeds.  There was one weed per page, with a photo, the scientific name, the common name, and some information.  Heard through a child’s ears, the common names were often quite funny – black nightshade, hoary mustard, nodding thistle, etc..  I’d read one out and she’d repeat it to Mummy. One was called “Kiss me quick.”  That was hilarious.  She repeated that one over and over…

When we visited North Melbourne Primary, they said that they have – at least in the early years – a “play based” approach to learning.  That seems to me just what Lillian needs.  It would be awful for her to be put in some structured/formal/disciplined learning situation.  She would be bored and rebellious if she had to do specified tasks in a specified order, the same thing at the same time as all the other students who are just not as quick, confident and creative as her.  She loves learning and all she needs is contexts in which she can find interesting new challenges.

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