What to do with 4yo who knows the concepts but can't write?

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What to do with 4yo who knows the concepts but can't write?

Postby Carol929 » Sat Jun 21, 2008 2:05 pm

I recently purchased Singapore Math (Kindergarten book A, geared for pre-K/4yo). We both love it, it's very engaging and my daughter wants to do it everyday and for a lot longer each day than I had planned! So far she is flying through this book, I barely have to explain what to do on each page and she does it perfectly. I flipped ahead to the end and it seems like she already knows/will have no problem learning everything in this book.

My problem is that she can't write numbers yet and has no interest in learning, and this book (and every other pre-k book) has them writing numbers. I make it a policy not to push, if she doesn't want to learn to write, at this age that's fine. I'm pretty sure that she is physically capable of it, she does mazes beautifully, colors in the lines, etc, and can write her name, a few words, and a few other letters, but for some reason she just doesn't want to write numbers and that's fine.

But what do I do with her math book? From Unit 2 on it's all writing answers, filling in the blank, etc. Conceptually she knows it all, ask her a question (even beginning addition and subtraction) and she can tell you the answer. She just can't write it. Should we just go through the book without writing and have her tell me the answers? Or put it off until she can write numbers? The reason I got a math book at all was because she knows her numbers by sight up to 20, can count up to 100, knows 1-5 addition and subtraction in her head, etc, so I hate to just not do anything just because she can't/won't write yet. Also, she loves workbooks and playing "school", and I figured getting her started with a traditional program might be a good idea.

I printed up a bunch of fun number practice pages for her to do but she doesn't seem that interested so, like I said before, I don't want to push. But since I'm pretty sure she CAN do it, she just doesn't want to (I think because she needs to practice, it didn't come naturally to her and since she's such a perfectionist, she hates to not do something right on the first few tries), should I maybe offer an incentive for practicing? If I just told her we can't do anymore of her math book until she can write her numbers, that'll be more than enough incentive for her to practice! But I'm not sure if that's the right thing to do.

Sorry this got so long, thanks for any input!

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Postby Lily » Sat Jun 21, 2008 3:43 pm

At that stage I used the refridgerator magnets and let him build the problems on the floor. We got the set that had all the signs included.

I don't think writing has to be a part of math - especially not when it's developmentally inappropriate.
"The greatest sign of success for a teacher... is to be able to say, "The children are now working as if I did not exist."
- M. Montessori
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Postby Minniewannabe » Sun Jun 22, 2008 1:17 pm


I love Lily's refrigerator magnets. That's perfect.

I also like your idea of having your daughter answer problems orally. Mine always liked art projects such as gluing tissue paper wads to a tracing of a big letter at that age.

Many 4 year olds are frustrated by the tediousness of penmanship. For them, it's too slow compared to how fast their minds are racing. And you certainly want to keep "playing school" fun and exciting at her tender age.

Don't worry as her fine motor skills will catch up to her bright thinking skills eventually. Then she won't be frustrated if she has to practice making her letters. (Of course, if she is to become a physician, then she'll never learn good penmanship :D )

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Postby Jazzy » Sat Jun 28, 2008 8:20 am

Hi Carol, in addition to using magnets or letting her answer orally, you can also give her stickers with the numbers written on them, and let her put the correct number sticker in the place for the answer. By playing with stickers, she is improving the fine motor skills that she needs for writing.

Another idea is to give her number stamps and let her use those to answer. Separate the study of math from the practice of writing. I wouldn't press her to write at this point if she's not interested.

Children develop the fine motor skills needed for writing at different ages, and it only causes frustration to press them to move more quickly than their ready for. Find fun ways to strengthen her fine motor skills - let her cut with scissors, play with playdoh, color with crayons, help you scoop and stir in the kitchen. Here are some other ideas for fine motor activities:

Preschool Writing Activity

Kumon sells Tracing and Mazes workbooks that are a great way to practice pencil control without doing formal handwriting lessons. The pages are colorful and fun, and both of my children enjoyed them. You can find them at most book stores.


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