How do young children learn to write? What research has been done about early writing ability? The stages of emergent writing describe the what, when, why, and how of written literacy in preschool and kindergarten aged children. Emergent writing stages can be defined as a theory of literacy development. It refers to the dynamic and overlapping stages of early writing ability that all children pass through, leading up to conventional writing.
The theory evolved from the concept of "reading readiness" or the notion that before children can learn to read, they must possess a certain mental maturity. Maturationists such as G. Stanley Hall and Arnold Gesell influenced early theories of literacy development and educational practices until the mid 20th century.
Attitudes toward literacy development began to shift when critics of reading readiness such as famed teacher Pukulski began to point out the theory's conceptional and functional flaws.
Specifically, educators began to realize that literacy is not a static ability that develops at one distinct point in a child's education, but rather an ongoing evolution of abilities and attitudes. This conceptualization of literacy as an emergent, or developing, skill led parents and teachers to rethink their approach to teaching children how to read and write. Long before children learn to write, they use writing tools like markers and crayons to draw pictures.
Drawing is the earliest stage in the emergent writing process. At this point in their development, children create pictures which represent things, not words.
They can use writing utensils to create shapes on the page, but in the child's mind the shapes are representations of the world around them rather than symbols representing the names of those things. In other words, they are just pictures. As children continue to develop and become familiar with the concepts of reading and writing, their intentions and abilities when drawing will change. Drawing continues but begins to contain scribbles of "mock handwriting" and can be horizontally oriented, like the words in a book.
Most importantly, the child intends the scribbles as actual words and may even assign meaning to their work, such as "This says 'good morning'! A crucial point in a child's literacy development is the realization that words are groups of individual letters. At this point scribbles begin to take shape and letter-like patterns begin appearing in the child's drawings. Although they are still unable to write the letters of the alphabet, children's scribbles have gone from squiggles and loops to alphabetical representations that resemble real letters.
As the child continues to experience the printed word in their daily life, their scribbles and mock letters will morph into actual letters with which the child is familiar. Children may not even be aware that they are drawing actual letters. This typically developing eight-month-old is shown handling a book. She has been read to every day of her life. Notice that there are toys around her, but she is more interested in her book.
Children with significant disabilities are not often given the opportunity to handle books, which is a very important component of literacy. Early Literacy for Students with Multiple Disabilities or Deafblindness Webcast that includes an introduction to literacy, challenges related to literacy for this population, literacy learning activities and adapted books.
Prelinguistic Communication These video clips demonstrate a student engaged in the use of routines designed to facilitate the development of a variety of conventional gestures. Learning gesture "give to partner for help" Clip 2: Learning gesture "move partner's hand to item" to ask for something to continue Clip 3: Learning to clap to show pleasure or enjoyment Clip 4: Learning to give high five as a greeting Clip 5: Learning "extend hand, open palm" gesture to request an item Clip 6: Learning to isolate the index finger the first step in pointing gesture Clip 7: Learning to comment using a "contact point" gesture.
Tangible Symbols Webcast explaining what tangible symbols are and how they can be used to support communication development in children who are unable to use abstract symbols. Literacy for Persons Who Are Deaf-Blind Introduction to an expanded view of literacy, written in everyday language and including a variety of practical tips.
Calendar Systems for Young Children with Sensory Impairments Discusses the developmental considerations connected to creating a meaningful calendar system and strategies for preparing a young child to use one. Tangible Symbols Systems Primer Provides basic information about the use of tangible symbol systems, including practical examples, tips from the field and troubleshooting suggestions.
The Path to Symbolism Easy-to-read overview of how children with significant learning challenges, including deaf-blindness move from early forms of intentional communication to more abstract forms requiring the use of symbols.
Online tutorial with five lessons. Every Child Is a Potential Reader Introduction to the importance of literacy for all children with examples of literacy materials and activities including story boxes, literacy kits and assistive technology.
Calendars for Students with Multiple Impairments Including Deafblindness Written for students who need help structuring and organizing their time and activities through the use of an individualized system. Check out the Language Arts section for free objectives and lesson plans tailored to particular stages of literacy. The opinions and policies expressed by this publication do not necessarily reflect those of The Teaching Research Institute, Western Oregon University, or the U.
Early Emergent Literacy Literacy begins at birth and builds on relationships and experiences that occur during infancy and early childhood. Label Objects Devleop print awareness by labeling objects with both pictures and words. Recipe Using an object recipe embeds literacy into daily living skills instruction.
Emergent writing stages can be defined as a theory of literacy development. It refers to the dynamic and overlapping stages of early writing ability that all children pass through, leading up to conventional writing.
Stages of Emergent Writing The writing samples on this page demonstrate different kinds of writing evident in a kindergarten classroom. Each sample demonstrates one or more of the qualities of effective writing.
Emergent Stage of Reading and Writing Most of what happens in the emergent stage is that children have memorized words (sight word reading) or they guess the words from context. They do a form of pretend reading that draws heavily from memorized words and from context clues drawn from pictures on the printed page. Given pictures of various stages of Emergent Writing, identify the stage of emergent writing demonstrated as well as your reasons for your choices. Check your answers with a screencast video. Prepare a written report briefly explaining to Zoey's mother the characteristics of the stages Emergent Writing and what stage Zoey is currently at.