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Chapter 15 – The development of writing

Chapter Summary

Children learn before they go to school that writing is different from spoken language. Written language is highly decontextualised. When writing begins, children experiment with written symbols and drawing. Their writing progresses through many phases from beginning, early- emergent, emergent, early, transitional and extending. 

Writing influences children’s reading as children have to slow down and think about written symbols when they are writing, and this helps them apply the symbols when they are reading. 

Teachers can assess children’s writing for ideas and print conventions and, based on what children can do, plan the writing program in response to this. As children’s writing develops, they begin to proofread, revise and edit, and they become aware of punctuation, grammar and handwriting.

Study Questions

Main ideas

What are some of the differences between spoken and written language?
In what ways do you think reading and writing are linked?
What role does publishing children’s writing play in the literacy program?

Application to a developmental stage

The development of young children’s writing from ages 2–5 is very interesting as it reflects the books they read and the images they watch on the screen. How do writing and drawing develop in the early-emergent phases?

Diverse learners

Some children prefer to draw and others want to write. How will you encourage both writing and drawing?


Download the assessment sheets Figure 15.10 and Figure 15.13 below. Can you assess the children’s writing samples?

Teaching plans

Based on the assessment of children’s writing, can you plan the next steps to help the children improve?