Kindergarteners and preschoolers often spontaneously play around with writing. Their interest is usually 90% experimentation and 10% imitation as they watch you to learn about the place and function of writing within society. It is not unusual for these early forays into the written language to include a combination of shapes, scribbles and random letters (generally beginning with letters that they are very familiar with like the letters of their own name). Sometimes they contain a message and fulfill a purpose, sometimes they are just about the feel of a pencil as it moves across the page.
So how do we support these ’emerging’ writers. Firstly, it is important to keep it playful. Be interested, but the minute you push or add an element of ‘have to’ to these experiences, your child is likely to run a mile. I would suggest;
1. Showing interest in what they are doing and encouraging your child to tell stories about their drawing and ‘writing.’
2. Involving your child in your own real life writing experiences, from writing the weekly grocery list to sending an email. Talk to your child about what you are doing, verbalising what you are thinking and doing as you write.
3. Setting up a writing space where your child has free access to a range of supplies, you will find suggestions for writing centres in this previous post here.
4. Familiarising your child with their own name. Label their belongings and/or add their name on a card displayed in your writing space.
5. Continuing to provide opportunities for your child to strengthen and train the muscles in their hands which are so important to writing. You’ll find a list of pre-writing activity ideas here.
Mostly playful writers just need time. Time in the company of an interested adult who encourages them to play 🙂