Writing Development in Early Childhood

By Dana Brumm,  Curriculum Specialist at Ebenezer’s Wauwatosa Child Care Center

Developmentally appropriate writing experiences and the skills children attain as young writers, greatly impacts their literacy development in later years. Young children progress through stages as they develop the fine motor skills to produce marks, letters and word formation.

Before young children are able to hold a writing utensil they use their fingers to draw or “write.” Our babies are running their fingers through gooey substances or squishing pudding between their fingers building manual dexterity. These new skills sure make playtime even more fun! The infant teachers watch the babies grow more  independent and increasingly confident as they master small motor skills to develop the building blocks for beginning writing.

Toddlers and Twos are just beginning to understand the concept of writing. They are figuring out that by moving a crayon, marker, or paintbrush over a page, they are leaving a mark that can be seen and used to communicate with others. This understanding is necessary for children to learn letter formation later. Teachers encourage toddlers and twos to experiment with different kinds of writing materials. It will develop their motor skills and increase their interest in and enthusiasm for this kind of activity.

For Pre-Kindergarteners, writing is a way to communicate ideas in print. It helps them learn that    letters go with sounds, and contributes to their emerging reading skills. Our 3K/4K teachers give writing opportunities to use drawings and symbols to express their thoughts, feelings and ideas. Children can print or copy their first names. They can use letter-like approximations to “write” words or ideas.

Young children “write” for a variety of purposes both at home and school. It is essential that we capitalize on the children’s strengths and provide support to move them onto the next stage of writing development. We need to present young children opportunities to explore different writing utensils, affirm even the most basic foundation of writing, such as scribbles and build their fine motor skills. This support will build a strong foundation for future  writing success!