Tag Archives: writing skills

The pen is mightier than the parent

13 May



The joy of communication. For once, in this beeping and pixelated world we (virtually) live in, this isn’t a reference to mobile phones or the internet – I’m talking about good old pen and paper. Since my daughter started school last September we’ve not only seen her grow into an increasingly sassy confident 5-year-old teenager but we’ve watched her discover the pleasure of being able to write. The wonders of phonetics means that even without accurate spelling, we can still interpret most of the magic that spills out of her head and onto the page.

There have been tales of princesses, retellings of Horrid Henry, birthday party invitations, props lists for imaginary Harry Potter productions and, on a much more simple level, there have been declarations of love. But being able to write hasn’t just allowed her to articulate the pictures and thoughts in her head, it’s demonstrated to me, as a parent, how she’s becoming increasingly independent. And here I shall stifle a sob. Take the example below. Upon a recent visit to her Nanna’s house, my daughter requested an envelope for a letter that she wanted to send to her best friend:


When did the ability to concoct a perfectly implausible story of ponies sliding down rainbows become the means to compose a cry for help? Her first bid for freedom. Is she starting to shun the parental yoke already?

As I know my mum will be reading this (*waves*), I must add that my daughter’s plea is no reflection on Nanna’s hospitality. We are a long way from either child whining “Do we have to go to XXX’s house?” Whilst grandparents provide a steady stream of cakes, cuddles, stories and ballpoint pens to pilfer, their homes are a happy and much looked forward to place to be. What the letter has given me is a glimpse of the future when my children won’t want to be hanging out with Mum or Dad anymore. They won’t be penning requests to be saved, they’ll be texting them to their mates (or probably sending them via Google Glass with a mere twitch of the eye):


This makes me sad. Suddenly I feel an urge to savour every tantrum, every battle to get out of the door, as there will come a point when they won’t seek that attention from me anymore. The other day, I made my daughter promise that we’ll still hug even when she’s as old as me and I’m as old as Nanna. Of course she made the promise but I’m not sure I know how to ensure both of us keep it. Life can throw so many obstacles between people – distance, disagreements, or just growing up and drifting away generally.

So it seems that the bid for freedom all starts with a pen and paper. However, it’s 21st century technology that will hold us together. We might not always be able to ‘touch’ but we can ‘be in touch’. We can ‘share’ even when we can’t be there in person. One day, when my children have Facebook profiles, I’ll advocate the introduction of a ‘dislike’ button – I’m sure I won’t always ‘like’ what they do and the naughty step will no longer be an option. But whatever happens, I hope they will always need their mum and dad and we’ll have kept that promise to hug – even if it’s just a virtual {{{hug}}}.

Review: Fun to Write

27 Jan

Fun to Write box image

Arriving home from the post office with a parcel and announcing to my 4-year-old that “I’ve got something for her” has the potential to lead to disappointment. Whilst her eyes lit up, I was less expectant as I knew the box was going to reveal something educational. The reaction upon seeing the contents of the parcel was as expected. Silence. Then a question:

“Maybe you could have got me something a bit more like what I wanted.”

Ah. You’d have thought I’d pulled a lump of coal and a rotten carrot out of the box. What I had produced, kindly sent by the people at Galt Toys, was Fun to Write, described on the box as a “simple and enjoyable method of letter and number forming … to encourage young children to develop basic writing skills”. I suspect my daughter queried in her mind how such a thing could possibly be fun.

Aimed at 3-6-year-olds first starting to write, Fun to Write consists of 6 double-sided writing cards (wipe clean and so reusable) plus pen, pencil, notepad and some really helpful instructions on how to best use the product. Each card covers a selection of letters or numbers (with an illustrative picture for each), breaking the process of writing into three stages. First, trace the dots and follow the directional arrows. Next, the arrows are gone and your little Shakespeare has just the dots to follow. Finally – and here is where your budding scribe gets the opportunity to really shine – all that remains is a dot to indicate the starting point of the strokes. Cue some back patting of your pre-schooler (or at least some back patting through gritted teeth when, at stage 3, they insist on writing all the letters backwards). The lined notepad and pencil are presumably added to the pack to use when your child can go freestyle and leave the comfort of the wipe-clean cards. Most people have paper at home but a nice addition to the pack anyhow.

E Fun to Write

Back to the 4-year-old guinea pig. My daughter is the oldest in her nursery class and is more than ready for school in September. As hard as nursery tries, they don’t have the resource to spend much one-to-one time with her developing her writing and reading skills. Likewise, although I’m a well-intentioned mother, I’m also a part-time working mum and have a busy little nearly-2-year-old to deal with so any props that can help me help my daughter enjoy some ‘educational time’ needn’t knock twice on my front door. “Just give her some paper and a pen!” I hear you cry. Unfortunately, with expectations driven by relentless toy advertising, the humble pen and paper sometimes just don’t cut the mustard with my little princess.

Following the disappointment when I opened the parcel and explained what her surprise was, I didn’t have high hopes for Fun to Write in the Crumbs & Pegs household. Yet, to my surprise, she agreed immediately to have a go and soon completed one of the cards, asking me then to wipe it clean before she proceeded, unprompted, to tackle the reverse side. She’s always had a fascination with anything wipe-clean so I suspect this was a contributing factor in grabbing her attention. However, I think the 3-stage process of writing that the cards set out genuinely gave her a sense of achievement as she moved from stage to stage. The test will be whether her enthusiasm is still there when I next suggest getting the cards out or whether she will have seen through my ploy to get her to spend time on something that doesn’t involve a remote control. There’s a lot to be said for using the novelty factor to get kids to do things that might ordinarily seem a chore and for that reason I’m confident that the Fun to Write pack will get some regular use. As one of my favourite parenting gurus once said: “A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down”.

Thank you to the lovely people at Galt Toys who sent this product to me free of charge and expected nothing in return other than an objective review. Fun to Write retails at around £6.99.

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