I’m passionate about writing. (Probably not a shock.) As much as I love and find solace in writing, I’m equally excited to build up a new generation of writers. When I was in the classroom, our Writer’s Workshop time was my favorite time of the day. Children are an unbridled font of creativity and new ideas. Writing allows them the opportunity to express and share that creativity. It’s SO exciting!
Earlier in the kindergarten series, I talked about the concept of “Picture Writing.” When a pre-writer uses picture writing, he or she is expressing their ideas though their illustrations. They can then transition into using their picture as a plan for their writing. The picture contains the ideas and details that can spark their written words. Today, I wanted to share some of the “next steps” for a pre-writer.
As always, when working with a new skill set, it’s important to work to build stamina and to work to your child’s capacity. We want our children to stretch themselves and work hard, but not to the point of unhealthy frustration. Trust that what may seem like scribbling or chicken scratch is actually a display of learning and progress! Your child WILL become a writer. It won’t happen overnight, but with daily continued practice, their pre-writing will transform before your eyes.
1. Picture Only
As with writing, kids will be at different levels in their drawing as well. If your child’s illustrations look something like this example, fear not! Many kids simply need to be taught to take their time and/or take pride in their work. Once they begin to understand that the picture holds meaning and can be used as a tool to guide them, they will begin to cease to rush, and produce more focused artwork. For other children, scribbling may be a result of poor hand strength or lack of fine motor control. Practice is the best remedy.
2. Nonsense Letters or Scribbling
You may have seen your child “write” using wavy lines or scribbles. This is a sign of great understanding! A child who pretends to write understands that print contains meaning! This is a great step! At this phase, children may also begin to write random letters. Kids often write the one or two letters that they know.
The next step for a pre-writer is when a child begins to copy the words, letters, and phrases they see around them! This is one of the reasons why I encourage parents to create a print-rich environment for their child. (Ideas for that HERE.) In this step, kids begin to write the words they know over and over as well. Many of my students would write their name and “Mom” over and over for weeks. You may begin to see environment words pop up like the words from street signs or names of products and stores you use frequently.
4. First Sounds
This is an incredibly exciting step! When a child enters this phase of pre-writing, he/she now has a set of pre-reading skills as well! (Reading and writing are so closely intertwined, and most educators, myself included, believe that writing is critical to becoming a reader!) In this phase, a child will represent words by one or two letters. They may write ” I G T S” for “I go to school.”
The writing may be hard for you to decipher, but your child almost always can read back their writing to you. I like to write out their dictation underneath their writing. This not only preserves their story for years to come, but you can also go back through and read the story again with your child, allowing them to see a model for more developed writing.
5. Multiple Sounds
The next step involves using multiple sounds from a word. The “I G T S” from the previous example, may transform into, “I G T SKL.” Kids, especially as they are simultaneously developing in their reading, begin to piece together more sounds, and have a better understanding of how letters and sounds form words.
6. Sight Words and Inventive Spelling
In this phase of writing, your child’s writing is decipherable and you can almost always tell what they were intending to write. They should be able to spell sight words like “the, to, me, go, etc” correctly and will use inventive spelling to form the remaining words in their piece. Inventive spelling is a critical piece of development, and I urge parents not to step in and spell every word for their child. Work with your child to use their sounds to spell the words. Stepping in and giving them all of the letters stunts their academic growth. Let them work the words through in their mind. Harping on kids at this phase for spelling can quickly shut down a budding writer. Recognize what tremendous learning they are doing as they use inventive spelling to write.
With continued practice, your child’s writing will continue to grow and develop as they begin to master conventions, add more correctly spelled words, and begin to understand how to revise their writing to make it stronger. Enjoy watching your child grow and develop as a writer this year!
This post is part of the Ready for Kindergarten series on Chasing Supermom. Click HERE to find all of the other great kindergarten related posts!