What makes a good writer?
Excellent spelling and grammar? Engaging style? Creative story lines and compelling characters?
Good writers pay attention. They read a lot, they listen and most of all they practice. But good writing needs a strong foundation to build upon. Like reading, writing development begins in early childhood and our experiences during these first few years have a significant impact on our abilities as writers later in life. In Part 2 of our series on supporting early literacy development, the Access Learning Blog is sharing tips and strategies to help parents, educators, and caregivers support emerging writers.
We’ll begin by explaining what emerging writing looks like.
Early writing is messy. It looks like scribbles on a page (or worse, on your walls!) and although your child may know how to “read” what they put down, you won’t find any recognizable letters or numbers at first. Over time, emerging writers begin to recognize specific letters and numbers. By the age of three, most children begin to create recognizable shapes on paper, often starting with the first letter of their name or other significant letters. Reading and writing go hand-in-hand, so if your child enjoys regular reading sessions with a parent, sibling, grandparent, friend, or child care provider, chances are that they will start to mimic the shapes they see in the stories being read to them.
Click here for a helpful list of the emerging writing skills you may observe in your child or the children you care for.
Healthy writing development can be supported in so many ways! Some ideas include:
- Pointing out letters and words in printed materials and in the world around you
- Drawing or writing gently on your child’s hand or back
- Writing letters or words in the air
- Using Play Dough or other modelling materials to form letters
- Providing your child with magnetic letters or building blocks printed with letters on them
- Offering writing materials (paper, pencils, crayons, etc.) and making them accessible to your child
- Demonstrating and encouraging the use of a pincer grasp
- Allowing your child to observe you writing in different contexts and for different purposes (i.e. writing out a recipe, writing a letter, filling out paperwork)
- Giving your child a blank notebook to fill with their own writing
- Providing fun and interesting writing materials like colour-changing markers, glitter pens, scented markers, Boogie Boards, or paints and a paintbrush
While your child is young, engaging them in learning through play and exploration is a key strategy to promoting enthusiasm and interest in developing new skills. If you make reading and writing fun for your child, chances are they will want to keep doing it! Using the strategies listed here, or coming up with some of your own, you can support the early writers in your family or community.