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Writing Development: One Child’s Journey from Scribbles to Stories

Educators used to believe that children learned to read before they learned to write, but literacy research of the 1970’s and 1980’s proved that this belief is flawed. The research revealed that just as children learn about reading from the time they are born, they learn about writing from infancy. When they watch adults and older siblings around them use writing as a means of communicating every day, even babies learn the purpose of writing. We also learned that reading and writing develop together and even reinforce one another. For instance, practicing “invented spelling,” or writing words the way they sound, actually helps children in beginning reading.

In the slideshow below writing samples by a child named Toby help illustrate both the developmental nature of writing and the relationship between reading and writing. The commentary beside each piece discusses not only how Toby is developing in writing, but also what specific understandings about literacy are reflected in his writing at different ages.

Return to Reading Milestones.

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