Blog Reader, Blog Reader, What do you see?

I see a bunch of scribbles looking at me.

Emergent Writing

D.C.N. Developing Child Note: The emergent writings of preschoolers develop in three phases. Scribbling falls into the first of the three, the early emergent stage. Scribbling initially lacks directionality and may not serve a communicative function at first, nonetheless, it is an important part of the process of writing development.

Social-Emotional Connection

Young children collect information regarding their writing ability through social comparison and implicit and explicit messages from adults. “Teacher interactions with early emergent writers, or children who are in the scribbling phase, generate some of the first social experiences preschoolers will have regarding writing. It is important that these interactions be intentional and positive” (Emerson & Hall, 2018, p##).

Action Steps:

First, use your words to applaud scribbling in children’s spontaneous or play-related writing. Tell me about this….

Second, use your actions to applaud scribbling among young children by respecting scribbled on paper. Should we keep this one?

Third, use your words to encourage scribbling, “Oh, I see your writing….”

Fourth, plan ahead to provide opportunities Offer a variety of writing tools in a variety of spaces, not just the “writing center”

Finally, Notice, Ask, Validate: Notice when scribbling is happening, ask questions relating to both process and product, and validate efforts (rather than products) with praise

I love emergent literacy and writing. It is a brilliant time for expression. I try to encourage my students to embrace the liberty of scribbling as the first stage of writing. There is strength and celebration in conveying personal notions. How liberating to begin without fear of spelling mistakes or penmanship!? Just crayon to construction paper vigorous action. (insert that fabulous sound here)

Power becomes available to young children as they scribble out an important note. Writing was often modeled for me, as a young child, in the lists my mom made for groceries or in the memos my father would draft on yellow legal pads. I have vivid childhood memories of wanting to have important information to communicate, an urgent message, something important to remember, Don’t Forget!, Read Me!. I was so curious and jealous of the importance that seemed to surround what my parents were writing down. We find that children hear and feel our beliefs about the importance of their scribbling in influential ways.

Want to know more?
This blog was based on an article by:  Emerson, A.M. & Hall, A. (2018) Supporting Preschoolers’ Writing Identities in the Scribbling Phase. The Reading Teacher

Want to play with this? Explore different writing tools on different papers.
How do the sensory experiences differ?
Do the children you work with prefer one combination to another?

Teaching tip: If you hold on to a scribbling work,
what do you see in it on day 1, day 5, day 10
, mid-semester, end of the semester?
Hall, A., White, K., Guo, Y., & Emerson, A.M. (2017) Who counts as a writer?: 
Examining child, teacher, and parent perceptions of writing. 
Early Child Development and Care, 

Dr. Andrea Miller Emerson

Dr. Andrea Miller Emerson

Dr. Andrea Miller Emerson is an Assistant Professor of Early Childhood Education in the Division of Education and Leadership at Western Oregon University in Monmouth, Oregon. Andrea lives (and laughs frequently) with her husband, Kyle, and her cat, Zuzu. She brings diverse personal perspectives to early childhood education and care from her father’s Colombian heritage, her mother’s all-American culture from North Texas, her ongoing involvement with an Italian Immersion Program for pre-service teachers in Carpi, Italy, and her extensive international travel. To learn more about Dr. Emerson’s speaking engagements, or to invite her to speak, please click here.