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Should Preschool Writing Be More Communication & Less ABCs?

child ABC

If you thought preschool is all about learning the ABC's, we have news for you. As it turns out, understanding the concept that writing is a means of communication makes a bigger difference in later writing skills.

Preschool is all about the basics. Usually, we think of counting, coloring, and learning the alphabet. When it comes to writing, forming the letters is the most basic element, right? Wrong. Letting formation is an essential skill of course, but it is not the foundation needed for a successful future in writing. Instead, early education should focus on purposeful writing.

READ MORE: Preschool Teachers Ask Children Too Many Simple Questions, Study Finds

A new study found that preschool teachers have plenty of educational materials for writing instruction, but they lack purposeful use. In other words, there might be stencils or chalkboards available, but the kids are not being taught writing is a means of communication nor are they participating in purposeful writing like letter writing or making pretend menus.

According to Hope Gerde, associate professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies, writing instructor at the early childhood level should be about more than letter formation and penmanship. Those skills do play an important role, but they do not stand alone.

child's hand with chalk write letters a, b, c, d on black chalkboard, stock photo image
Credit: iStock

Little kids need to be taught what writing is and how it is used. Then they need plenty of time to practice meaningful writing. This is more important than being able to make the letter 'N' with a pencil.

Scribbles that represent a letter to Santa Claus or a story below a drawing a preschool has made are a better foundation for writing than being able to write letters. That skill will come in time, as fine motor skills develop and with plenty of practice, but it won't mean anything unless children understand that writing is a way to communicate.

Magnetic letters or letter stamps are a perfect way for little ones to develop their written communication skills. Then kids whose fine motor skills have not caught up can continue to grow in their writing.

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