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