THE METHOD AND THE MATERIAL 291
Making a visit to the " Children's House," even during the opening weeks, one makes fresh discoveries. Here, for instance, are two little children, who, though they fairly radiate pride and joy, are writing tranquilly. Yet, these children, until yesterday, had never thought of writing!
The directress tells me that one of them began to write yesterday morning at eleven o'clock, the other, at three in the afternoon. We have come to accept the phenomenon with calmness, and tacitly recognise it as a natural form of the child's development.
The wisdom of the teacher shall decide when it is necessary to encourage a child to write. This can only be when he is already perfect in the three periods of the preparatory exercise, and yet does not write of his own accord. There is danger that in retarding the act of writing, the child may plunge finally into a tumultuous effort, due to the fact that he knows the entire alphabet and has no natural check.
The signs by which the teacher may almost precisely diagnose the child's maturity in this respect are: the regularity of the parallel lines which fill in the gRometric figures; the recognition with closed eyes of the sandpaper letters; the security and readiness shown in the composition of words. Before intervening by means of a direct invitation to write, it is best to wait at least a week in the hope that the child may write spontaneously. When he has begun to write spontaneously the teacher may intervene to guide the progress of the writing. The first help which she may give is that of ruling the blackboard, so that the child may be led to maintain regularity and proper dimensions in his writing.
The second, is that of inducing the child, whose writing is not firm, to repeat the tracing of the sandpaper letters.