Did you know that those early scribbles are the beginning of being able to write? Writing is an important skill for children to learn, and this learning begins in the toddler years.
What it is
Beginning to express ideas and feelings symbolically on paper is emergent writing. While all children develop their ability to write on their own time table, all children follow a similar pattern of developmental stages as they learn to write. They begin by scribbling and drawing. Which then turns into them expressing their feelings and ideas symbolically through drawing or squiggles that represent words. Next, these squiggles become approximate letter shapes. When children begin to learn about letters, random letters will begin to appear in their writing. Finally, letters will begin to be used purposefully as children learn to associate letters with their sounds. This then turns into writing with correct first and last sounds, and eventually full words, sentences, and paragraphs.
How to Teach Emergent Writing
You support your child’s emergent writing when you:
Supply a variety of writing tools, including thick and thin pencils, crayons, markers, white boards, paint brushes, etc.
Supply a variety of paper such as colored paper and paper of different thicknesses and textures.
Model proper writing in many ways. (Writing a grocery list, writing your child’s dictation on the back of their picture, writing a check, writing a letter to a friend.)
Provide genuine writing opportunities. (writing a letter to a friend, making a graph related to something you are learning about, writing in their own journal while you write in yours.)
Encourage your child’s writing approximations (squiggles, drawings, letter approximations, etc.)
Support your child in developing fine motor skills.
Activities That Teach Emergent Writing
Find a penpal.
Have materials available for your child to write along with you. (They can write their own grocery list while you write yours, they can write in their journal during your morning routine)
Set up a fancy restaurant dinner one night. Write name tags for every seat and write a menu.
Spend time coloring, drawing, writing, or just being creative with drawing materials.
Take a deep dive into stepping into your role as your child’s first teacher with my online course Early Childhood 101.