Beginning WritingBeginning Writing Includes:

  • fine motor skills and eye-hand coordination for controlling writing tools
  • understanding that we can show our thoughts through drawing and writing
  • writing letters that represent sounds in words

Learning to read and write are interrelated skills that develop in stages. In fact, children draw and write before they begin to read. Children learn about writing by seeing it displayed in the environment and by watching other people write. Children’s first attempts are scribbles or marks. As a child continues to grow and learn, you may see many different attempts at writing that become more complex as your child begins to understand the process of writing.

Some Stages in Beginning Writing:

  • scribbling
  • shapes that resemble letters
  • random letters written together to resemble a word
  • labeling pictures with beginning sounds
  • experimenting with different spellings of words

Celebrating and accepting your child’s writing efforts unconditionally is an important part of your child’s long journey in learning to write. The end product is not as important as the experience itself.

Tips to Help Your Child With Beginning Writing

  • Drawing pictures helps your child share his feelings, dreams and knowledge. Drawing is a way for a child to practice writing and express feelings nonverbally.
  • Give your child plenty of opportunities to draw and write. Provide unlined paper, pens, markers, crayons, paint, paintbrushes, chalk and clay – anything that sparks her imagination and begins the process that leads to writing.
  • Displaying your child’s work and talking about what he drew lets your child know that writing has meaning and that you value the effort, which builds self-esteem.
  • Talking about what your child has drawn provides you a glimpse into your child’s imagination and helps develop his understanding of the reader’s point of view.
  • Don’t be concerned about incorrect spellings in children 5 years old or younger. When a child begins to write words, he uses his best judgment or guesses about spelling. This “inventive spelling” process actually supports learning to read and helps your child learn the sounds that letters make. Be careful not to criticize these first attempts to write. Instead, celebrate just as you did when your child first started walking and talking.
  • Do not be concerned when your preschool child reverses a letter. This is common in the beginning writing of young children.
  • Playtime is a great time for writing. Give your child a choice of writing tools (markers, crayons, pens, pencils) and a pad of paper. He can become an “artist,” a “doctor” or a “waiter” by drawing pictures, writing out pretend prescriptions or taking orders from a menu.
  • Use plain paper with no lines. During the preschool years, children do not always have the fine motor control necessary to write letters on a line or between two lines. Providing a variety of writing surfaces enhances the writing process without the stress of staying on or between lines.