I spend a lot of time in telehealth with toddlers and young preschoolers doing pre-writing. It requires few tools, it is easy to demonstrate, and it is fun. But when parents tell their two year-old that they drew a circle after they scribbled in a circular pattern, I stop them.
After all, copying a circular scribble is a 2.5 year-old skill, and a very important one. Control of a curved stroke is huge for pre-writing.
Because what you say to a child who is learning pre-writing strokes matters. A lot.
- A circular scribble doesn’t have an optimal starting location, nor does it have a sequence. It can be more oval, it can be more round. It can be 3 revolutions, or 30.
- A CIRCLE starts at the top (of the page, of the section of paper, etc) and rotates to the left. It connects to the beginning point of the stroke. Once.
- Confusing the two risks making early writing harder. I get paid a considerable amount to remediate errors like starting letters at the baseline and writing too slowly to copy from the white board. It starts here, with inconsistent and incorrect instruction at a vulnerable period in learning.
Teaching a child that there is a difference doesn’t mean criticism. At all. I celebrate every circular scribble, and I demonstrate a circle when kids are ready to learn, or when I want them to scribble ON TOP OF MY CIRCLE. Or draw a face on my circle. You get the idea.
I want a child to notice that there is a difference, and learn what those differences are, without judgement. This will help them understand how to execute the correct start and sequence to draw a circle when they are cognitively and motorically ready.