Teaching Young Children To Write

Early in my career I was a writing rebel. I was told by many of my peers, "Young children cannot and should not write!" I pressed on and taught writing to my students covertly anyway. It was simply frowned upon to start any formal writing until second semester. And then you were only to teach modeled or structured writing.

Now, educators concur that reading and writing go hand in hand and are an “…interactive process.  There is a dynamic relationship between reading and writing and each one influences the development of the other…” (McMahon & Warrick, 2007, p. 159).

Back in 71 Million years ago they was Dinosaurs
Young children can write and this writing should occur daily in the early childhood classroom. In fact, most students will write before they read! “Over the school year, students’ writing develops…with increasing levels of sophistication of vocabulary, syntax, and stylistic features” (Bailey & Heritage, 2008, p. 159).  As writing develops, teachers will clearly see knowledge of phonics rules as well as a demonstration of graphophonemic knowledge applied to writing, and by observing the writings, great insights can be gained. 

Moab Day! Moab is hot and very weird 

Students need to experience genuine purpose and different types of writing in a risk free environment. Students must be empowered with confidence that they are capable of writing and possess the knowledge that their efforts are accepted and authentic. This happens when students are given the skills necessary to build independence. Students will flourish in a classroom where the physical, pedagogical and emotional environment supports literacy.  Research supports littering the environment with print and providing students opportunities to read and write their surroundings.

Young children can write! Consequently, writing in many forms should occur daily in the early childhood classroom! 


Bailey, A. L., Heritage, M. (2008). Formative assessment for literacy. Corwin Press: CA.
McMahon, C. and Warrick P. (2007). Wee can write. Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory: ORE.

Scaffolding emergent writing in the zone of proximal development. Mid-Continent Regional Educational Lab (MCREL. Retrieved August 19, 2008 from http://www.mcrel.org/

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