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Early Writing ~ Children Are Natural Storytellers


Children are natural storytellers, so while the brain is not necessarily wired for the invention of writing, they want to write to make their stories permanent, visible, and share the way they experience the world. Intuitively, children want you to know what they see and what they know.


Writing in the early stages actually begins with drawings. Did you know that when children draw pictures, they are planning and organizing the story they would tell you? Drawing encourages many aspects of early literacy from as fundamental as proper pencil grip, to noticing, to imagining, to composing thoughts, vocabulary development, to creative expression. Those are some of the psychological aspects of writing that one never sees until the "author" puts them onto paper.


Simple ways to encourage storytelling and therefore, writing with young writers based on certain truths:

  1. Writers are noticers: Keep a noticing journal, blank pages, that you can use (instead of a device). Take that out intentionally when you're out and about or at home to teach your young writer to slow down notice. I'm a particular fan of this because we live in a chaotic, noisy world and children need encouragement to turn all of that noise down and focus on sensory experiences. There's so much to the world we miss because of the pace of our lives. Teaching them to notice in busy places and quiet places allows them to develop that necessary sense of peace and calm in the ordinary. Noticing aloud (as you model) helps them grow fascinating and diverse vocabulary which later will improve reading comprehension and writing.

  2. Writing builds connection: Write with them: If you take a minute and imagine the world as your child, think about how many times they've seen you write more than just the grocery list. Show them that writing connects us by writing beside them. Your modeling has an exponential affect on their engagement, development, and stamina. Young writers don't often have examples or models of the process, just the outcomes - which are published books! So, your example of writing about the ordinary moments shows them that spending time telling stories, noticing the extraordinary moments in the ordinary is a way to not only bond with your writer, but to expand their thinking about writing as an enjoyable way to spend their time and express their uniqueness.

  3. Read: Read books about writing and there are many! : I have created a short list of funny, sweet, creative re-aloud books you can enjoy with your children about the process, joy, challenges of writing. I particularly love the one, Ralph Tells a Story, by Abby Hanlon. It's a story that makes it safe to tell stories even if he/she doesn't yet know how to spell words correctly.


As. you write with your young writers, remember that spelling isn't writing. Storytelling is writing. Children will learn to love writing and be inspired to spell. Spelling instruction is systematic and only one layer of teaching writing but it isn't the first. As a reading/writing specialist, I meet every day with individuals who have such meaningful things to say but don't because they fear the misspellings. Later, I'll explain how you can bridge the teaching to support your young writer's spelling development! In the meantime, allow them to tell their stories with pictures, scribbles, fragmented words, letters of all sizes and so on. Create space for writing and storytelling. They want to hear your stories as much as you want to hear theirs and this time you spend will have a profound impact on their self-esteem and willingness to engage in the technical aspects of writing later.


Here's to Slow and Steady Development,


~ Dawn




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