Adventures in motherhood: Teaching Ethan to write

I've been focusing on teaching Ethan to write lately. He knows all of the letters of the alphabet in various forms. Ethan also knows how to spell his name but has a hard time recreating a graphical representation of the letters. As far as shapes goes he can draw a reasonably round circle and most of the time a squarish looking square. He can do rectangles too but they are sometimes hard to distinguish from his squares. Ethan has a really hard times with triangles. He knows that there are three sides but he can't seem to get the three lines to meet properly with out help. He tends to loose his place on the paper whenever he picks up his hand to make the next mark. If I nudge his hand back before the pen makes contact with the paper he usually does okay.

Ethan can make the horizontal strokes in the letters in his name with out too much trouble (aside from his hand wandering out of place). The vertical and diagonal lines give him a lot of trouble. Again his hand kind of wanders off as if it has a mind of its own even when it's clear that Ethan is really concentrating on what he's doing. These difficulties tend to frustrate Ethan because he knows what his name is supposed to look like but can't get it to look right when he tries to write it. This often leads to him loosing interest and giving up before he's made any progress.

I've found that naming each stroke he makes in writing each letter helps over come these problems. The letter E is "down, across, across, across", T is "across, down", H is "down, down, across", A is "side, side, across", and N is "down, down, side". Talking it out as he writes seems to help him focus in a way that being silent doesn't. Ethan doesn't get as frustrated using this method even after repeated tries at writing any letter. He also has much better success with the diagonals in the letter A this way.

I've been writing this post for a week now and in that time Ethan has made amazing progress in learning to write his name. He's obsessive about practicing now that he has a mechanism to help him break it down. As I type he is carefully writing his name in a note book I gave him yesterday (to keep him from writing on every piece of paper he found including the brand new Bible that hubby recently gave me). Ethan even recognises that some of his mistakes look like other letters (mostly X and F). He's also added "up" to his list of stroke names for when he draws a vertical line that he feels isn't long enough at the top.

Now I have to work on getting him to write the letters next to each other instead of anywhere on the page. Also have to work on sizing as some letters are quite large while others are fairly small. After that we tackle the curvy letters in his surname.


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