​I am often asked the question, How can I teach my child to write?  Since reading and writing go hand in hand, the best way to start “teaching” writing is by reading.  Teaching a love of writing at this early age is so important for future successes a writer. There are a few things you should know about the early stages of writing.

Scribbles Are Important

Early writing really begins with drawing or scribbling. These random marks on the page are very important beginnings to the writing process. If you watch your child, you will see that these “scribbles” soon turn into long wavy lines resembling writing. This usually happens between the ages of 2 and 4.Next in the development of writing at this age, you’ll likely see your child making letter-like markings. These won’t really be true letters, but represent them.

Recognize Letter Strings

Around age 4 or 5 you’ll start to see real letters in strings on the page. They may or may not make real words.  More often than not, they are simply the letters your child enjoys making in non-phonetic blocks and lines. Don’t be alarmed if many of these are backward. This is totally normal.

Inventive Spelling is “Real” Spelling

When inventive spelling emerges on the page, (usually around age 5 or 6,) the fun begins! Now your child is using his or her own spelling according to how he or she makes the letter-sound correspondence.  This is my very favorite stage of writing and children are so excited to be able to put their sounds to paper and have others decipher it! One thing you can do to celebrate this success is read your child’s stories aloud. I promise, the more you read this inventive spelling, the better you will get at being able to decipher it. Hint: “speak” it as your child speaks; try to talk like your child. When my daughter was young, she had trouble with the “bl” blend and her writing at this stage reflected this.

Have Your Child Share Their Work

Children love to share their writing. Ask you child to be an author and sit in an “author’s chair” – a special chair designed for the sharing of the written word. Ask your child to sit in this chair (or wear a special hat, or other special thing to signify author’s time).  Be an active listener.  Invite the whole family. Ask questions about the story. Comment on what you enjoyed about it.

What Not To Do

It is very important not to correct a child’s spelling or grammar right now. Let them enjoy the free flowing feeling of writing without worry whether it is “right” or not. Spelling is one of those skills that is best acquired over time and does not come by rote memorization, constant correction or practice writing words correctly over and over again. (I’ll have much more to say on this subject in later posts.)

Later On

Around age 7 is when children begin to use more and more conventional spelling in their writing and spells most words correctly. Now is the time to teach simple grammar rules, which we’ll talk more about later on.

Useful Books:

This is an oldie but a goodie. It is hard to get a hold of, but if you can find it, it is gold:
Using Word Walls to Strengthen Student Reading and Writing at the Emergent Level

​Playful Writing: 150 Open-Ended Explorations in Emergent Literacy

Literacy-Building Play in Preschool: Lit Kits, Prop Boxes, and Other Easy-to-Make Tools to Boost Emergent

Reading and Writing Skills Through Dramatic Play

The following books are excellent books for teachers and are a must-have when you are teaching little ones during these early years:

Soaring with Reading and Writing: a highly effective emergent literacy program 

Teaching Beginning Writers

Helpful Websites

Get Ready to Read (GRTR)

International Reading Association (IRA)

National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC)

National Center for Family Literacy (NCFL)

Reading is Fundamental (RIF)

Reading Rockets

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