Learning the alphabetic code (including how to form letters and the sounds associated with each letter) is an essential component of gaining procedural knowledge.
Children benefit from having multiple opportunities throughout the day to develop fine motor skills and finger dexterity using a variety of manipulatives (e.g., magnetic letters, pegboards) and writing implements.
Encourage invented spelling (Ouellette & Sénéchal 2017) and attempts at writing letters or letter-like symbols. Han’s preschoolers enter the classroom, they sign in, with parental support, by writing their names on a whiteboard at the classroom entrance. Noel’s classroom go to a special table and sign in as they enter the room. Patel instructs her preschoolers to answer the question of the day by writing their names under their chosen answers.
Today, the children write their names to answer the question “What are your favorite small animals—piglets, ducklings, or kittens?
This is the beginning of a series of stages that children progress through as they learn to write (see “Stages of Emergent Writing”).
Emergent writing skills, such as the development of namewriting proficiency, are important predictors of children’s future reading and writing skills (National Center for Family & Literacy 2008; Puranik & Lonigan 2012).
Children benefit from teachers modeling writing and from opportunities to interact with others on writing projects.
Teachers can connect writing to topics of interest, think aloud about the process of composing a message (Dennis & Votteler 2013), and explain how to plan what to write (e.g., choosing words and topics, along with the mechanics of writing, such as punctuation).
During early childhood, teachers are laying the foundation for generative knowledge as children learn to express themselves orally and experiment with different forms of written communication, such as composing a story, writing notes, creating lists, and taking messages.
Children can dictate words, phrases, or sentences that an adult can record on paper, or they can share ideas for group writing.