Friday, 9 November 2012

Emergent Writing

Learning to write is much more complicated than we think. After all, most people can write so what is so difficult about it?  It's second nature to most of us, yet take some time to look at yourself when you write. What muscles are you using? Switch hands and see if you can manage writing with your other hand. This may give you some idea of the level of control required to make meaningful marks on paper.

Building muscle strength and learning to control those muscles is an integral part of children learning to write.  Core muscles, the large arm muscles and the small muscles in the hand and wrist all need strengthening and developing in order for children to be able to gain control of a pencil or crayon.  In addition to strengthening and controlling muscles, refining depth perception and visual tracking skills are  important.  Hand-eye coordination is essential as the hands and eyes have to work together to enable children to form letters and write across the page. 

While your child's first writing experiences may look like scribbles to you, if you ask them what they have drawn you may get a very complex story. Children recreate and make sense of their world first through their drawing and later through their writing. This takes time to develop and develops alongside their language. When a child can tell you all about their drawing and you can record that for them, they are  learning that their words are valued and can be represented. When children begin to understand that symbols  have meaning, they are on their way to being motivated to record these symbols for themselves.

Their first efforts at writing recognisable letters will possibly begin with them writing their names  between four and five years old. It's vital that children see their name written and have opportunities to write their names independently. This is their signature, it's not a copy or tracing of an adult's writing. Children who can write their names are very proud of this and this achievement needs to be celebrated, whatever the writing looks like, so they will be enthusiastic about writing.

When their child is beginning to write, parents should not worry about letters that are not properly formed, letters that are back wards and that their child may have missed out letters. This is a natural part of children developing their writing style. They get plenty of practise at forming letters later on, the early years is a time for children to experiment as they develop the brain connectors needed to control their hand eye coordination and make writing on the lines possible.

Source: Words their way
Children need experiences to write about so exploration and interaction with the world around them and other people is essential.  Children learn to express themselves through their writing  when they have opportunities to:
à draw, paint and create and a collage
à practise their skills in a variety of contexts through different experiences
à strengthen their muscles through manipulating materials during play
à develop their coordination through physical activity
à interact with their peers and adults

Ideas to develop muscles and hand-eye coordination include:
à playing outside, swinging, running, pouring sand and water, playing tag, swimming, riding a bike
à exploring and experimenting with a variety of materials such as sand, water, glue, tweezers and tongs, boxes and puzzles
à finger painting and gloop
à working with playdough     

The more children are engaged in purposeful play; the more opportunities they have for interactions with others; the more they are positively encouraged; the  stronger their foundations for both writing and reading will be and the more rewarding their progress will be for them as you celebrate each success together.

Some examples of emergent writing

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