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By Hilary Whitewriter and educational consultant

original article published 6 April 2010

Writing is a complex skill that is central to children’s development as both communicators and learners. Use these ideas to help them develop the skills and attitudes they need to grow into confident writers

Photo © Laura Heffernan

Introduction

The foundations of writing are laid down during the early years when children’s first explorations are often referred to as emergent writing. Beginning with random mark-making, children gradually start to realise that they can choose to make marks with an implement. ‘Pretend writing’ evolves into recognisable letters and words as children develop the ability to control mark-making equipment, absorb printed words from books and environmental print. They discover that writing is meaningful and representative. Emergent writing also encompasses the exploration of the purpose and possibilities of writing, for example as a means of labelling or recording messages.

Encouraging emergent writing is an essential part of your role. In the early years, however, the focus should be on explorative play with an emphasis on child-initiated activities. This means creating and maintaining an environment that allows for independent play and offers writing-related opportunities that are tailored to the needs and interests of your children.

Activities to strengthen hands and fingers

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