Writing and the child mind
Updated: Nov 19, 2022
Let's talk about writing and the human brain. Based on research done all over we know that drawing and writing are closely connected. They share a link in the synapses required to write. They are so closely connected that if children are given a chance to recognize forms, then their writing as they develop will become more 'writing like'. We also know that children who were not given such an opportunity to see this connection will relate drawing with writing as a natural spontaneous response. Whether this is in frustration or if this is in fascination to turn a capital 'O' into a spiral or to dot 'i's with 'x's this has been seen over and over and over again.
What you see here is my sons drawing of a turtle when he was 4 years old, I sat down and drew one with him too. We were at a museum, in the long ago days of pre-covid activities. He developed a love of writing through the discoveries of form, and this is how we accessed a lifelong positive relationship to letters. He takes his time with these lessons in a way that he does not with writing, which to me is okay. I don't mind if he writes a little sloppy according to my adult judgement, as there will be natural teachings from this methodology. This year I have pushed him along with writing, challenging him to write more and more with each unit study. He has expressed a huge interest in being a paleontologist. As such, one would be in the field observing and working hard for a short time compared to the amount of lab work, writing, study, and discernment. All of these lab tasks of the paleontologist require one thing to be exceptional. Writing.
There are many factors to a paleontology dig, even a tiny one. I took this as an opportunity to dig deep and while he will say,"This makes me feel a bit tired." He won't say, "THIS IS BOOORING!" or "My hand hurts!" I know it has much to do with the introduction of writing and the relaxed attitude that was introduced around letters and numbers we have and had in our home. We didn't randomly start labeling home items as he grew into a stage of writing, when he asked what they were either dad or I would write it down and I would draw a picture of it for him. If he was interested in the cupboard, we would look inside and look all around it. Then we would later make a form called 'cupboard form'. This gave an association of drawing to the thing we were discussing.
I will be clear as I would be remiss if I did not mention that all of this was new to me. Some days, many days, I was convincing myself I was doing it all wrong. Yet he has fallen in love with books. He will become giddy at the thought of writing or reading a new book. You couldn't tear a good chapter book from this kids hands unless you had a crowbar. I mean why would you try right? I personally had to fight through so much self doubt and push it all into the back of my mind, and lead with my heart. This was uncharted waters for me at the time my son was 3 and 4. This method took what I knew from the school system I grew up with and toppled it on its head.
The fact is reading and writing are both relatively new things to our human lifespan. From making tools to mapping stars, writing or reading is something that was promised to a precious few in early societies. We are still developing the capacities to make sense of it in some of our minds. So if you have a child who is struggling to read or write then I recommend you take what you know and topple it upside-down, perhaps with a shift in perspective you will see something new that you hadn't seen before. Something that works for your student or child. It will be fun nonetheless to see what you get in the end. Have you ever done something like this with incredibly surprising results? Let me know! Have a great day. 1ove,