In her article, “Are We Teaching Kids to Write All Wrong,” Jennifer Rainey Marquez interviews Cynthia Puranik, who received $3 million from the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences to study a writing intervention program she developed in which children help teach one another. Marquez quotes Puranik as saying:
“If you think about how babies and toddlers learn to talk, they don’t start speaking in full sentences or even full words. They babble, they coo and then eventually you hear the words come out. That’s also what children do in writing. They make marks and scribbles, and those marks evolve in a linear sequence before they start to conventionally write. Children could start doing this as early as two years old...
Before children learn to write, they need to understand that print conveys meaning, that writing is symbolic, that writing (at least in English) goes from left to right. These are concepts children have to understand before they can put words together to form sentences. Then they use marks and scribbles to convey meaning. Slowly they learn to write the letters of the alphabet, learn letter-sound correspondences and use that knowledge to spell single words.”
Rebecca Giles outlines very similar concepts in her popular new book, A Young Writer’s World. She advocates helping children see themselves as writers, beginning at a very young age, and offers many ideas for doing this. She explains that supporting children’s interest in forming letters, without moving too quickly toward formal handwriting instruction, can keep motivation high:
“Formal writing instruction such as repetitive tracing or forming letters is not needed since handwriting is best practiced within the context of real writing experiences.”
Creating Early Childhood Classrooms
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