There is no denying that times are changing as we move through the Technology age. More and more is technology based these days, gone are the days of record players, cassette tapes, video recorders (being replaced with downloadable content), and even cheque books are being phased out (not really needed as much with online banking and ParentPay). I am sure you can think of lots more examples too. But how about the Pen? Can you see it being replaced? Will in the future we only make marks on computers, iPads, and smart phones? Will the pen go into extinction?
The reason I am considering whether the pen is mightier than the iPad is because one of the reasons that it was picked up that our son has Sensory Processing Disorder was the fact that he was falling further and further behind his peers. Last year it was even discussed whether to hold him back a year at school. So far this term he has been doing really well, and even holding his own in some of the groups that he is in with his peers. But now the question falls as to whether his inability to hold a pencil and write properly is further hindering his development – and if, indeed, using an iPad would help him to progress more.
For our Sensory Seeker the obvious answer would be yes to him using iPads if writing is going to become a skill of the past. If the need to write things down by anyone wouldn’t matter. Other ways of developing fine motor skills needed for other things could be developed. Obviously it would give him more of a chance to work through his learning without the added pressure of being able to write. If pens were to become obsolete that would save a lot of trees and a lot less landfill waste from pens that have run out. Our 11 year old already has a laptop for school and most of the work is done on that, as opposed to pen and paper. It means that he is always ready and never runs out of paper or ink. It also allows teachers to send information and interact with the children easier.
I do not know, I like writing. The actual act. Surely there is more to making marks on the page than the end result. I would love to hear what the many stationery lovers out there have to say on the matter. Do we think it could ever become a possibility? As writing is not about to become defunct any time it still leaves the question as to whether our Sensory Seeker should be using the pen or the iPad. If he is not practising his fine motor skills will this not make them weaker? Making it less likely that he will be able to write in the future? Will this make him lazy? Different? And more addicted to technology? The idea is that they will try this out in groups (at least at first) so he would not be on his own. But then the school are wondering whether he should then utilise it at other times too. I guess it is a tricky one, like all things that need to be considered.
What do you think, are we likely to get rid of pens/pencils any time soon?
And I would love to hear from anybody that has any experience with Special needs children and using iPads at school – has it helped them? Or even anyone’s thoughts on the matter. Our Sensory Seeker is equally behind in all areas (apart from technology) so it is not to say that he will not progress with his writing at the same rate, and just be behind his peers.
Writing is an area of development that The Sensory Seeker has struggled with. He hasn’t got very good fine motor skills and so finds it hard to hold the pencil. If you think that learning to write is easy, then try putting your pen in the hand that you do not normally write with, then close your eyes and write your address. Was it as easy as you thought? There is so much to think about – not just the shapes of the letters, how to space them out, whether you have room on the paper, which directions to go from – plus any other distractions going on around you.
The Development of Children’s Writing Skills
When you start to write you do not need to worry about things like having ideas and imagination, talking about feeling or having a good memory – that will all come later. First you need to focus on holding the pencil, hand-eye co-ordination, time to experiment and being allowed to draw and scribble.
The writing journey
Writing goes through a journey, starting with mark making. I tend to not call it scribble as it is the first important step to writing. This then develops to tell a story. It may not look like it makes sense but it does to the child. Then comes the identifiable shapes and patterns – lines, squiggles and blobs. As control improves the shapes and letters become clearer. They learn the rules that writing goes from left to right, top to bottom. They leave gaps to show where the words start and finish. More letters will be used to tell the story. They start to spell. They begin to use their phonic knowledge. The write simple sentences. They learn about punctuation. They will write stories making sense phonetically, and they will learn about using the right word. Help to encourage extending their vocabulary. Spelling correctly comes later.
Encourage your child’s Writing
- Make a postcard.
- Let them make a shopping list, or write a recipe.
- Give them lots of stationery – fun notepads, stickers, post-it notes, fun pencils and rubbers.
- Let them copy words.
- Encourage them to make Thank You cards/letters.
- Let them use technology – you can get games where they can write with a stylus.
- Get a whiteboard or chalk board – where they can wipe off what they have written.
- Play family games that involve writing – like the Silly sentence game (where you write part of the sentence, fold it over, and pass it on for the next person to add their bit)
- Start a scrap book and they can write underneath what the pictures are.
- Let them draw a picture for the words you tell them.
- Write yourself – be a good role model.
- Remember that writing does not have to be with pencils/pens – you can use all manner of things to help them achieve the correct letter formation – sand, shaving foam paint, etc.
Here are some great blog posts for helping with Fine Motor Development to help those Writing Skills
5 Letter Learning Activities with Mega Bloks – Mom Inspired Life
Halloween Do-a-Dot Printables – Gift of Curiosity
Styrofoam Fine Motor Activity – Triple T Mum
Vowel Farm – There’s Just one Mommy
How to Encourage Writing with Young Children – My Big Fat Happy Life
Letter of the week Letter B – One Beautiful Home
Behind in Literacy
My little boy is behind his peers academically in every area apart from technology. He has what is known as a Global Developmental Delay – or at least that’s what I think he has. I guess he’s one of the SWANS – that is kids without an actual diagnosis. They decided what he didn’t have and that was it. I guess he is currently being supported and that is the main thing. But his school don’t just support children like mine – they support all children. So currently they are running a course on helping the Year 1s with their Literacy. The tutor told us that most people think about Reading, but Literacy covers speaking and listening, as well as reading and writing. Some of the session is work with just the parents, and then we bring the children in.
First she read some of the story of “Max and Lara’s Amazing Travelling Space Circus.” Then we had to discuss with the children about what they thought about the two main characters Max and Lara. We had a sheet with ideas of what to ask them (hair colour, favourite food, etc). I was really surprised (and proud) of how well my son did at the task so it was nice to try a fresh approach. I loved how all the fun things we have done about the Gruffalo had obviously made a difference as he talked of Gruffalo crumble and scrambled snake. It really brought home to me that all I need to do to help my son with his Literacy is just to keep having fun with him with it. Then he was able to draw his characters – and I talked about what he had said about them (eg remember you said she had big ear lobes).
Fun Literacy Ideas
Sign Language Alphabet – Home Schooling with ADHD
Roll and say Fall ABC Game – Fantastic Fun and Learning
Alphabet Matching Activity – Sand in my toes
ABC Letters – LalyMom
Preschool Writing Activity – Letters to Family – Mom Inspired Life
Books for kids not ready for Harry Potter – What do we do all day?
Creative Alphabet Activities – Gift of Curiosity
Free ABC handwriting practice pages – Embark on the Journey
B is for Butterfly – A Little Pinch of Perfect
Spelling Activities – B-Inspired Mama
Sight Word Stackers – JDaniel4’s Mum
Alphabet Glass Gems – Rubber Boots and Elf Shoes
October books for 2 and 3 year olds – Planet Smarty Pants