I’m not a big fan of putting really young children at a desk with a paper and pencil… unless of course they are happily drawing a picture out of their own imagination and because they want to. At some point, however, these tots are going to be in school, and depending on the classroom, they might be placed at a hard desk with a pencil and paper and the task of learning how to write symbols (letters and numbers). Ugh.
What can you do to prepare your child for the experience of writing numbers and letters with pencil on paper? Something fun! Show your child a number symbol (let’s use the number 6), and then using the fullest range
of motion you can (really stretching out those arms and legs), sky-write the number in the air. You should model this sky writing, standing to the side and just a little in front so your child can get a good look at what you are doing. Then write the number using your pointer finger to lead the way and stretching your arm to make the hugest number you can make…stretch way up and when the number goes down, go WAY down, just brushing the floor. (The great by-product of this game is the aerobic benefit to the parent!)
When you have played this “game” a few times and have given your child a chance to store the movement in his brain and body, consider transferring that motion to paper. Please don’t use a pencil, though! Let your child choose a crayon or big fat marker in the color she feels matches the number. Once you have given your child the chance to sky-write the number in the air one last time, say, “Now can you draw on paper what your body just did?”
Just try it! You’re going to be amazed at what your child can do!
A beneficial ending to this exercise is to ask your child if he would like to draw 6 dots in a grouping that seems nice to him by way of illustrating his magnificently written number. Another great activity to establish number sense for hands-on learners is to make math dot cards.
Sarah K Major