Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Intentions to Connect

We all remember hearing the initial coos or the first repetitive sounds of babbling that come from our babies’ mouths. Do you think they were trying to tell you something? Anyone’s answer to this question is yes, and the same thing translates over to children acquiring written language just as they did with oral language.
When children draw pictures or write in scribbles, they have intent to connect and communicate, just as they did with their pre-language sounds. There are five levels that you may find your child in or between as he develops his ability to write meaningfully. These steps are the following;

1. Your child is in the scribbling/drawing stage when he makes uncontrolled drawings that are not recognizable.
2. The pictorial stage is when your child’s drawings become slightly recognizable and she imitates other writing from anywhere that she sees it.
3. At the precommunicative stage, children can often write their own name and a few other known words.
4. Next is the semiphonetic stage in which children can from most letters correctly, understands that writing goes from left to right and top to bottom, and can spell some harder words that they see frequently.
5. The phonetic stage is when your child begins to identify punctuation (including spaces between words) and represents most consonant and some vowel sounds with his spelling interpretations.
6. The final phase in written language attainment is transitional. This is when children mostly use correct capitalization, spacing, and logical phonetic spelling.

A child may spend more time than the next at one level, or may skip a level entirely, but learning to write and spell correctly is a process. We must always keep in mind that when children are working away on their scribbles or writing down incomprehensible words, that they are still intending to communicate. Developing authentic or meaningful ways for children to communicate through writing will help them glide through these steps and become proficient writers!


  1. Children are so unique, it is impossible to confine them to a certain stage or acquisition pattern. They experiment constantly with writing. It is great for parents to be aware of the stages and be on the lookout to gain a new appreciation of how their child is exploring writing. They should also keep in mind that children can use several stages of writing at any time, and as you mentioned, they may skip a stage entirely.

  2. To begin by having the reader reflect and then respond is such an effective approach. I love the use of the language INTENT. Too often, people forget that a child nearly always has intentions with whatever choices they make--including what they read, write, and draw. Conversation is key. Talking to them can open up so many worlds for all people involved in the conversation. Another great format tool was the use of listing. Especially for busy adults, this allows them to read your message both efficiently and effectively. Being able to recognize each stage of literacy will allow one to have specific goals to aim for.
    Great job!

  3. This is a good post because it can help people get rid of common misconceptions. A lot of people want steps of development and strategies to be concrete. The truth of the matter is that in teaching very few things are that way due to the plethora of different types of students and ways of learning. I appreciate how you not only gave the levels but went on to say that they are not always chronological and the levels do not last the same amount of time for each student. I feel like this will help ease guardians a little.

  4. It is great that you listed out all of the steps above. When you use an actual blog in your classroom it will be so nice for parents to see where you are going with your lesson plans. It will be useful that you have a good strong foundation about the steps that will be used in your classroom! I think that parents and colleagues alike will really enjoy your insight in the classroom.

  5. I think it is important to understand that even the smallest children are using language even when you think what they are saying is inaudible. They are picking up cues and information from adults as they watch how they communicate and interact with other people. They are trying to imitate what they see. As children grow and progress through their literacy, I agree there are five to six levels they may go through to develop meaningful writing. You have displayed six important steps that are beneficial to understanding children's writing. Its important to recognize each child is unique and progress differently through these steps.