I've started working in my school's nursery this year, and I've been brought to reliving the fascinating life of a three year old. A little creature who isn't much out of the toddler stage, who is encountering everything in the world for the first time, yet within a year is going to have to start full-time education. Gosh sometimes, it feels very harsh on the poor little mites.
One of the things that we're working on (but only for those who are ready, of course) is their ability to hold a pencil to mark-make. It's fascinating to observe the different stages of development. I've got one little boy in my group who has a reverse palmer grip (holds it like a knife) and his mark making consists of zigzag patterns, while the young lady next to him holds her pencil with a mature tripod grip and can produce detailed drawings of her family members with the correct number of fingers and toes, and adds glasses and beards where appropriate. Then we have the children who haven't decided on their dominant hand yet and switch back and forth between left and right, often as they're actually mark-making.
It reminded me of the early days of The Boy's exploration of writing and mark-making. When he was around three years old, he had cause to write his name one day, and it surprised me to see him write it completely in reverse. Not just reversing the letter formation, but he wrote it backwards as well, as if it were a mirror image.
It intrigued me greatly.
I didn't correct him as he was trying so hard and was incredibly tired after a long day at his aunt's wedding (however, as it was in her guest book I did apologise to her), but it made me stop at the time and consider how his brain must have been trying to process the things he encountered.
The Boy has always been left-handed, since he was able to pick up anything it was with his left-hand. And it goes without saying that I'm certainly not going to try and correct it, but it makes me stop and think in a way I never have before. As a teacher I was well aware of aides for the children like sitting them on the left end of a table so they didn't bang elbows with their 'neighbour', slanting paper 45° so that the lower right hand corner is touching the table's edge. Any other direction and his writing ends up lying down flat on the lines, it's so slanted.
He's always used his knife and fork in a conventional right-handed manner, but he does struggle sometimes when he needs to use a fork as a scoop for peas and the like. He prefers his glass at the top of his fork, not his knife. In his pencil tin there are left-handed scissors but he prefers to use right-handed pairs. And don't even get me started on the left-handed ruler that I bought him; it blew his mind.
However, there's a biggy coming up that we haven't encountered yet and really need to deal with.
How on earth do we teach him to tie shoelaces?!