You may have seen this graphic when I shared it on LinkedIn and Twitter the other week. It shows what writing skills children typically develop at various ages. Understanding what’s appropriate for students developmentally is critical for an educator, especially educators who work with early elementary school students. Placing unrealistic expectations on young students causes frustration for all involved: teachers, parents and students. Knowing what skills are generally appropriate for certain ages, on the other hand, helps the adults involved properly nurture the development of growing writers.
I am all for challenging students and having high expectations, but my purpose in doing so is to create learning experiences that build confidence and boost self-esteem by giving my students the tools and guidance to be successful. Learning experiences must be developmentally appropriate so students feel capable of accomplishing them and motivated to continue advancing their skills.
In K and 1st Grade, students should learn to hold a pencil and form the letters. At first, they may only use letters to explain drawings or tell stories; then they move onto invented spelling and sight words and finally, develop better spelling skills as they learn phonics. Students will still be working on mastering spacing, capitalization and punctuation at ages 7-9. This is also when they will begin grouping ideas into paragraphs.
It often seems like we are pushing more onto students at younger ages. Although we as educators feel the stress of standards and the pressure for our students to be highly successful in the future, we should not transfer those adult concerns onto students. Let’s keep our expectations realistic and give our students a solid foundation for the future by focusing on the skills appropriate for their age. Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither are the leaders of tomorrow.
Do you feel the education system is asking too much of young students? Or do you feel current curriculums and standards are appropriate?
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