Meaningful, Challenging Writing Opportunities for Young Children

Author:  School Ready Team

Writing in many early childhood classrooms is limited to:

  • Copying words
  • Name writing
  • Helping the teacher compose a Morning Message
  • Practicing correct letter formation
  • Whole group journal writing on assigned topics


While these practices are part of Pre-K writing instruction, much is missing! Opportunities to learn Pre-K Guideline IV.B.1 (Child independently uses letters or symbols to make words or parts of words-phonetic spelling) are often particularly lacking.


Example of phonetic spelling:



A high quality Pre-K program offers a balance of meaningful teacher-led and student-led writing opportunities that include all of these 5 components.



Throughout the week in a high quality Pre-K program, the teacher and students compose lists, letters and other forms of writing through shared or interactive writing.

During Center time, students are invited to write in various centers (e.g., food orders in a Dramatic Play restaurant and observational drawings in Science Center).


Children make books regularly or engage in Writing Workshop, composing their own texts.   Name writing occurs naturally throughout the day as students sign a wait list for a popular center, answer a survey or record their names on art work.

Rather than copying their names or isolated letters over and over again, young children need meaningful reasons to write. In Real Life Reasons to Write, Louis Mark Romei offers a short list of ten compelling ways to prompt young writers:

Questions to Consider:

  • How can you challenge and support Pre-K teachers to gradually begin offering comprehensive writing instruction that includes all 5 components?
  • How can you ensure rigorous, meaningful writing instruction including opportunities to develop phonetic spelling?

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