Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Early Childhood Writing

I was presenting a workshop on literacy in the sand table at the Utah Early Childhood Conference this past Saturday. I was reminded about how critical it is to help young children feet comfortable with writing. Many early childhood educators mistakenly use handwriting activities as a writing response. Since writing is putting our thoughts down on paper, for young children that means drawing pictures. Handwriting will come as fine motor skills develop and as the child learns about the alphabet and reading. It is critical that we allow children to draw pictures and respond to the environment often, without the requirement of 'writing' letters and words. Although dictation (writing the words on a child's picture) is appropriate at times to model writing, it is also important for a child's project to stand alone. This is one way we can help children feel comfortable with responding to texts and putting their thoughts down on paper. The writing process is an important part of the new Common Core State Standards. I often think of the book, "Bunny Cakes," by Rosemary Wells. In the story, Max wants Red Hot Marshmallow Squirters for his cake. Since he can't write words, his success comes when he draws a picture of what he wants. Let's support the writing process in young children by allowing the drawing of pictures and celebrating those responses.

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