Preschool teachers recognise the importance of early writing by making writing materials available in their classrooms and providing children with many opportunities to write during the day.
Early writing, or emergent writing, firstly involves children producing physical marks and secondly the meaning and understanding behind these marks.
The Victorian Early Years Learning and Development Framework maintains that “Young children begin to explore written communication by scribbling, drawing and producing approximations of writing. They use digital technologies and multimedia resources to communicate, play, and learn. They create and display their own information in a way that suits different audiences and purposes.” Preschoolers further benefit from being encouraged to scribble and pretend to write during playtime.
The foundation of all good handwriting begins with the following skills:
In the early years, children's drawings are their writings, and they make no distinction between the two when asked to write. As their skills develop, children begin to make separate marks representing their "writing". These early marks often appear like purposeless scribbles to observers but are essential building blocks in children’s writing development. The scribbles eventually evolve into separate, distinct characters. Emergent writing skills, such as the development of proficiency in name writing, are important to children’s future reading and writing skills. By being aware of children’s current fine motor abilities and their progress in emergent writing, educators use a variety of strategies to promote growth in each child’s zone of proximal development.
The way a child holds a pencil is called a pencil grasp. This grasp requires the thumb, index, and middle fingers to work together. It is therefore important to intentionally embed fine motor development opportunities into curriculum programs, to foster developing the muscles in children’s hands.
In order for young children to experience success in writing, they must be introduced to the skills in the proper order. Every child progresses through these skills at a different rate based on their fine motor skills. When we refer to proper letter formation we are referring to starting letter strokes at the top of the paper. All letters should start at the top and go down.
Children in Preschool should engage in daily experiences that support the development of fine motor skills, strength, and dexterity in their hands and fingers before they can be expected to master writing.
“Children need continuous experience in writing. They need the chance to experiment using what they know about writing and the opportunity to apply and practise their developing skills and knowledge. The opportunities to write should be available during free play”.