Children engage in ‘writing’ in the early years, through mark making, scribbling, drawing, painting and experimenting with the formation of letters. Through ‘telling’ the story about their early writing, children begin to recognise that writing conveys messages and stories. Research shows that children want to write before they can read. Children are more fascinated by their own marks than those made by others and use drawing and painting to capture their knowledge, ideas and imaginations. By engaging in these experiences, children develop their understanding that writing is a powerful means to communicate to others.
Early writing is fostered and developed in children when they are given the appropriate resources to explore and experiment with in the learning environment. It is also important to have older children and adults model writing to them for a variety of purposes, such as writing a shopping list. Through play-based learning children are given the opportunity and freedom to explore early writing in ways which are meaningful to them and reflect their interests.
What are the key skills children need to develop to support their progression in writing?
- Name writing- being able to recognise and write their name plays a significant part in children in developing their interest and skills in writing.
- Oral language development – supports the development of both reading and writing. Children need frequent opportunities to engage in shared book reading, songs, rhymes and word play, story telling, engaging in conversations and pretend play.
- Fine motor development – developing the correct grip and control to hold writing tools and other tools such as scissors and squeezing pegs.
- Understanding the purpose of writing – children need to understand how writing is used to communicate for specific audiences and purposes.
- Conventions and concepts about printed language – this includes knowledge of the alphabet, an awareness of the relationship between letters and sounds, writing left to right and from the top to the bottom of the page.
It is important to remember children will develop their early writing skills at their own pace. This is best supported through open ended play based experiences where they can manipulate and experiment with a variety of tools to scribble, draw, paint and form letters. Learning to write commences long before School and this is why it is crucial that children are given the time and freedom to do this in experiences which reflect their interests. In doing so, children will have a solid foundation for formal writing experiences when commencing school.