This week our small group focus is writing, but truly writing is a part of our every day here at preschool. We encourage practicing writing at each child’s own level, and helping them individually to succeed and grow. Writing develops at a different pace for each child, and that pace should be respected in order to foster a love of writing, rather than a dread of handwriting practice. Here are some writing stages you may be seeing in your preschooler—
Stage 1—Scribbling: In this stage the child makes random contact with the paper with little muscular control. To help them grow at this stage encourage continued use of different writing materials. Allow your child other ways to increase their fine motor control, such as stringing beads, working with small blocks, or even finger plays to encourage individual finger movements.
Stage 2—Letter-like Marks: Children “pretend write” at this stage. They experiment making lines and curves that may resemble letters, and write in a linear fashion across the page. You can assist their growth at this level by valuing their writing and giving it a purpose. Let them “write” their own grocery list as you write yours. Have them make a stop sign if they don’t want their block tower disturbed. Encourage them to use writing as often as they can in their play and throughout their day. Encourage this writing in their play will help them to see that writing communicates a purpose, and will strengthen their fine muscles as they move to the next level of writing.
Stage 3—Writing Letters: Children can name and write recognizable letters, most often beginning with the letters in their name. Other than their names they generally write letters without any personal meaning (just to make letters, instead of trying to write words). They are beginning to form an awareness that letters match sounds. You can help them by encourage them the same ways as stage 2, but with more purpose. Encourage proper grip of their writing utensils and proper formation of their letters. Follow their lead with things they may be interested in writing!
Stage 4: Writing Words: At this stage children use writing to communicate whole words. They will use “invented spelling”, which simply means they’ll write words based on their sounds. Example: A child writing “STOP” may write “STAP” or “STP” because those are the sounds they hear. Although it may be tempting not push children at this age to spell correctly, unless they ask. If they write the sounds that they hear with invented spelling they will actually become more attuned to how words are formed and create a deeper understanding of spelling in the future.
No matter what stage your child is at, be sure to encourage and support them in positive ways. Pushing children to write at a higher stage before they’re ready may destroy their self-confidence, and lead to have a negative attitude towards writing and schoolwork in the future. Don’t be afraid to make writing fun be letter them write in and with different substances, such as shaving cream, pipe cleaners, Wikki sticks, playdough, or even sand!