Not learning writing in Pre-K — The Bump
Pre-School

Not learning writing in Pre-K

I'm frustrated with my girls lack of writing...maybe I'm expecting too much. When my girls were 2 and 3, they went to a preschool at the local Y which was all fun and socialization. They're always the oldest in the class, due to fall birthdays, so maybe I was expecting too much for a 3 year old class. Now for pre-K, I switched them to a M-F program at the school district which I thought would be more intense. They go to specials (music, library, etc), do great science experiments, trips, art projects...but no writing yet. One of my girls can write most of her letters, from practicing at home. My other has no interest and barely does her name at almost 5. She has no interest in writing apps, workbooks, etc, and gets annoyed when I try to work with her. I'm frustrated. I dont want to be the one to have to teach this stuff....I dont have it in me...this is why I signed them up for a 5 day program. I tried to talk to the teacher at parent night but was a little rushed. She said they will learn thru play and they get more into this stuff in kindergarten. Am I expecting too much from a pre-K? I'm so frustrated and worried my 1 girl wont even get into kindergarten (while being the oldest in the bunch). Thanks for listening to my babble.

Re: Not learning writing in Pre-K

  • In my DD's pre-k class last year they were expected to write their first and last names by the end of the year. They would "sign in" to class when they first got there. The teachers had a lot of different ways for them to do this: whiteboards, puzzles with the letters of their names, chalk, etc. They didn't do much other writing, and my DD is doing fine in kindy. They are working on writing upper and lowercase letters a lot at school right now. Have you checked the kindergarten readiness guidelines for your school? I think being able to write their first and last names is pretty much all they expect in our county.
  • Thanks girls. No...public kindergarten. I probably meant "wouldnt keep up" rather than wouldnt get it. The program they're in now is very reputable so I have to hope there's a method to all the play. I hope. Thanks
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  • Honestly, I think pushing writing before they are developmentally ready for it can cause them to form some bad habits that they end up having to unlearn. If one of your DDs is interested the other one might pick up on that and start trying it. I'm a huge fan of play-based preschool. DD1 learned a ton last year.
  • I actually think 4 is too young to teach them writing anyway (and there are studies to back that theory up). In Pre-K they should be learning through play. That's what is developmentally appropriate for that age. The new standards that are pushing them so hard to learn earlier and earlier are actually hurting, not helping them in the long run. I wish I could say my child's Pre-K wasn't teaching writing. 


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  • I agree with others who have counseled not to push this or worry about it too much.  There's a window when kids learn to write much more easily -- around age 5 or 6.  

    If you want to make it easier when the time comes, do lots of arts and crafts.  Coloring, cutting, using stickers, glue sticks, bending pipe-cleaners, etc.  These activities all help with fine motor.

    Another fun activity that helps with fine motor is games.  Spinning a spinner, rolling a die, moving a game piece all help with fine motor coordination.  Ditto with card games, which require fanning the cards, stacking the cards, picking up one card at a time, etc.
    High School English teacher and mom of 2 kids:

    DD, born 9/06/00 -- 12th grade
    DS, born 8/25/04 -- 7th grade
    MNgirl326
  • Thanks for all the ideas girls!
  • DD is in a Montessori setting, but some of the pre-writing skills they have the kids do is pricking. It's basically big thumb tack and they punch holes in the lines of a picture. I'm not describing it well, but it teaches them the proper writing grasp and increases fine motor skills. Another fun way to teach letters is sand tracing. They can write the letter, smooth the sand and do it over and over again. It's still play, but they are learning a skill.
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  • If it is in the public school system then they are teaching them what they know for Kindergarten. I would be frustrated too but let me promise that if they know everything well you will be frustrated next year too when they are repeating it. Back off or you will frustrate the child that is not interested yet. Give it time and they will learn it next year. Good luck.
    Jen - Mom to two December 12 babies Nathaniel 12/12/06 and Addison 12/12/08
  • Honestly, my DS started kindergarten this year and I feel like it's a step backwards from preschool.

    My DS went to a Montessori preschool where he was writing every day, using numbers up to 100, and doing basic addidition. Starting kindergarten, they go back to covering ABCs, shapes, and colors. (These are things that my two year old already knows). I know they have to start from the beginning to cover all the kids abilities, and I KNOW that it won't be this basic forever, but it's a bit frustrating to me....however, DS is happy and loving school so that's what's important.
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  • Spin313 said:
    Honestly, my DS started kindergarten this year and I feel like it's a step backwards from preschool. My DS went to a Montessori preschool where he was writing every day, using numbers up to 100, and doing basic addidition. Starting kindergarten, they go back to covering ABCs, shapes, and colors. (These are things that my two year old already knows). I know they have to start from the beginning to cover all the kids abilities, and I KNOW that it won't be this basic forever, but it's a bit frustrating to me....however, DS is happy and loving school so that's what's important.
    This would really annoy me and they don't have to start from the beginning to cover all the kids abilities.  I'm a teacher and differentiation is a huge push.  We need to challenge kids on what ever level they're on.  The students are in flexible groups so base on how much support, or enrichment they need on a certain skill they're given.  My DD is 3, she also know her shapes and colors and has for a while.  In her daycare they are doing alot of writing and she love is.  She can write her name and most letter, although far from perfect.  If she's pushed back to such basics when she gets to kindergarden I'll be pissed.  She's going to get bored and it's a huge waste of time.  I would talk to the teacher and if she's not going to cover anything your DS doesn't know by June, push for him to skip to 1st grade.  You should also see if there is a G&T program he can be it.  I'd also be interested in the level the other children in the class are on.  Most kids I know DD's age do know shapes, letter, colors, numbers, ect.  Maybe the teacher is just being lazy and the class needs to be challenged.  If there are a few students who don't know those things she should be working to support those students, not dropping expectations of the whole class.
  • @mommymegan831:
    I don't blame my DS's teacher and I don't think she's lazy. I'm hope they are not spending ALL day working on the super basic stuff. I can only speculate since I am not in the classroom all day long, but I would think some of it is bell work while they unpack backpacks/lunch boxes/snacks in the morning and check communicator folders. I do volunteer though, and I know that at the beginning of September there were a few kids in his class that couldn't write their names.

    While I think my son is more advanced than the average child at his age, I don't think he needs to skip ahead a grade. As long as he is engaged and liking school, I'm okay. But, like I said in my original post, I do think that CURRENTLY he isn't being as challenged as he was in preschool. We have parent teacher conferences in a few weeks, so if I still have concerns I will address them then.
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  • Spin313 said:
    @mommymegan831: I don't blame my DS's teacher and I don't think she's lazy. I'm hope they are not spending ALL day working on the super basic stuff. I can only speculate since I am not in the classroom all day long, but I would think some of it is bell work while they unpack backpacks/lunch boxes/snacks in the morning and check communicator folders. I do volunteer though, and I know that at the beginning of September there were a few kids in his class that couldn't write their names. While I think my son is more advanced than the average child at his age, I don't think he needs to skip ahead a grade. As long as he is engaged and liking school, I'm okay. But, like I said in my original post, I do think that CURRENTLY he isn't being as challenged as he was in preschool. We have parent teacher conferences in a few weeks, so if I still have concerns I will address them then.
    Spin, the first quarter of kindy for my DD has been mostly review, too, but I feel like that's how it is at the beginning of the year.  This week they started some new units, and they are doing tons of fine motor work (which my DD really benefits from).  It's good that your DS is enjoying school.  I think there's a lot more to kindy than just the academics :)
    Spin313
  • I'm glad to hear all the opinions on this! I love, love, love DD#1s pre-school, but at her recent bday party, I noticed all her friends signed their name in the cards they gave and realized she can't sign hers. I've been nervous about her being "behind" and if I need to switch, but this is reassuring me to keep her where we have her.
    DD #1 4 years old (09/22/09)
    DD #2 2 years old (08/17/11)
    DD #3 born 08/29/13
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