Learning to WRITE!

Learning to WRITE!

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 Why Do Children Write?

Children write to communicate their thoughts, which are expressive and tied to their personal experiences. When children have the opportunity to write freely for purposes that are meaningful to them, they go about the process in a systematic way and use whatever they know to convey meaning.
 

What is "Temporary Spelling"?

(also called "Invented Spelling")

If encouraged, young children learning to write will often "invent" the spelling of unknown words when putting their thoughts on paper. Lack of spelling knowledge does not hinder their attempts to record their thoughts in writing. Many parents are fearful that by allowing their children to invent the spelling of unknown words, bad habits are formed. It is important to point out that first attempts at learning anything are not perfect. In fact, when learning anything new, children need the freedom to make mistakes. It is through making mistakes that children construct their knowledge and pass from one level of understanding to the next.

Learning written language is much like learning spoken language. Rather than squelch children's first attempts by pointing out what they did wrong, our role as parents and teachers should be to provide accurate models for children, focus on what they did right, and encourage them to explore, take learning risks, and use what they do know. A young child's invented spelling in writing is like a toddler's babbling in speaking. Neither is incorrect. Both are temporary. To encourage children to keep learning, it is better to recognize their efforts as "best guesses," instead of errors.

Activities to Support Writing Development:

· Writing letters to someone
· Making greeting cards
· Personal phone/address book
· Writing stories/making books
· Scrap book or photo album with captions
· Shopping lists
· Writing notes
· Making signs
· Writing songs
· Copying environmental print
Provide a variety of writing materials
 
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Stages of Writing

All children go through certain stages on their way to becoming confident, competent writers and spellers. There is continuous development in writing; the "stages" are not fixed or discrete. In fact, one piece of writing may show characteristics from several stages.

Prewriting (also called "Driting"):
· Writing begins with scribbling, which is gradually differentiated into scribble for writing and scribble for drawing.
· Scribble for writing will begin to contain letter-like features or random letters, usually those found in their name or very familiar letters.
· Scribble for drawing develops into more identifiable pictures and objects are named with one-word labels.
· Drawings become more complex and lend themselves to word sequences.
· Some themes are significant to the child and may be repeated several times.
· "Driting" is a term which means a combination of writing and drawing.

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Pre-communicative/Pre-phonemic Stage:

· The writing in this stage is not readable by others.
· There may be random strings of symbols (letters, numbers, or invented symbols).
· Both upper and lower case letters are used.
· There is no indication of any knowledge of letter-sound correspondence.

Semi-phonetic/Early Phonemic Stage:

· Spelling is characterized by first attempts at letter-sound correspondence.
· One or two letters (usually consonants) may be used to represent a word (Examples: "R" - are; "wk" - walk).
· Children have great difficulty with vowels.
· The writing may or may not display spaces between words.
 
Phonetic Stage:
· The spelling is not conventional but the writing is meaningful and can usually be read by others.
· All the sounds heard in a word are represented in the spelling (Example: "tabl" - table).
· There may be substitution of incorrect letters with similar (or even the same) pronunciation. These substitutions often indicate a great deal of phonetic knowledge used (Examples: "jrink" - drink; "chran" - train).
· Word segmentation and special orientation are clearly evident (spaces between words).
 
* NOTE: This stage is the goal for students by the end of Kindergarten.

Transitional Stage:

· A speller begins to rely more on sight than on sound for spelling.
· Many words are spelled with appropriate letters, but not in correct sequence (Example: "becuase" - because).
· Vowels appear in every syllable.
· Writers may operate in the transitional stage for a long period of time.
 
* NOTE: This stage is where most first graders will be writing throughout the year.
 
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Conventional Stage:

· The writer has basic knowledge of the English system and its rules.
· The writer can often recognize when a word doesn't look right and can experiment with alternatives.
· A large reservoir of words is spelled automatically.