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Developing Early Writing Skills

— The Parent-Child Home Program
Updated on Dec 16, 2008
Writing is an integral part of reading and a critical component of literacy. Recent research indicates that many children begin drawing, scribbling, and reproducing letters and letter-like forms long before they understand what the letters mean. These activities encourage writing awareness and promote reading readiness. 
  • Scribbling, and drawing lines, shapes, and pictures are the first steps towards writing
  • Drawing should be encouraged by providing time and materials as soon as children are old enough to hold a crayon.
  • Take advantage of any opportunity to model writing (i.e. writing grocery lists, daily schedules, letters, notes to family members). 
  • Give children ample opportunity to scribble (pretend writing). This helps them develop an appreciation for writing
  • Pointing to words as you read them in stories or writing words said in a conversation will help them understand the link between spoken words and written text. 
Early writing is also critical to small motor skill development as children learn to manipulate writing implements and make controlled marks. 
 
The general stages of writing development are as follows:
 
Stage 1:            Random Scribbling (2- and 3-year-olds)          
Stage 2 :           Controlled Scribbling (3-year-olds)      
Stage 3 :           Letter-Like Forms (3- and 4-year-olds)           
Stage 4:            Letter and Symbol Relationship (4-year-olds)   
Stage 5 :           Invented Spelling (4- and 5-year-olds) 
Stage 6 :           Standard Spelling (5-, 6- and 7-year-olds)       
(Source : MacDonald, S. (1997) The Portfolio and Its Use : A Road Map for Assessment. Southern Early Childhood Association)
 
Try some of the following activities with your toddler to encourage early writing and reading readiness:
 
Sidewalk Chalk
Summertime is a great time to practice drawing and writing skills outdoors. You can purchase colorful sidewalk chalks at a variety of stores. Be sure to get sidewalk chalk and not regular chalk because it is larger, sturdier and easier for young children to grip and manipulate. Help your child write his/her name. Draw pictures of things you see outside like trees, bugs, or your home and label them, helping your child to spell out the letters as you write them together.
 
Scribble Time
Make writing a daily activity along with reading. Gather inexpensive writing materials like newspapers, brown paper bags, or used wrapping paper and let children use pencils, pens, markers or crayons to make their mark. Older toddlers can keep a notebook that is just for their “writing.” Young toddlers should be allowed to scribble and draw unguided so that they become comfortable holding and controlling their writing utensils. You can guide preschoolers  (3- and 4-years-old) by writing a letter for them and then having them practice writing it themselves.  

Toys:

Crayola Sidewalk Chalk®
 
Crayola makes a hefty chalk specifically designed for small hands and rough terrain although any extra-sturdy chalk will work. 
 
Crayola Washable Markers®
 
These durable markers are completely washable. For less than $5 your child can create brilliantly colorful drawings, scribbles, and words without ever staining anything.

Book:

Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson
 
This classic tale was written and illustrated by Crockett Johnson in 1955 and celebrates the power of imagination. Harold takes a magical journey using his giant purple crayon to create anything he can imagine. The story will inspire creativity in little ones. (HarperTrophy)
 
 
Recommended books and toys are available on our website by clicking on the Amazon.com link: www.parent-child.org
 
 
© 2005 The Parent-Child Home Program, Inc.
The Parent-Child Home Program
1415 Kellum Place, Suite 101
Garden City, New York 11530
www.parent-child.org
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