Kid writing is an amazing reflection of student understanding of not only their own thoughts, but of letter sounds as well. It is such a natural process. Everyday in my classroom, the first activity of the day is writing in your journal. In my classroom, the children are BOSS of their journal writing - I never tell them what to write about. This is important on several levels:
- First, it gives children a place to express what is important to them and what they love. You get a glimpse into their inner world! What are their interests? Concerns? etc.
- Second, it supports the use of important thinking/cognitive processing that does not otherwise get activated. It is brain smart! It requires the child draw from that which is meaningful to them and then give it form in symbolic terms (drawing, words, complete thoughts, etc).
I think it is important to honor the stage of writing they are currently in and support their self-expression in its current form. Like learning to walk - each stage is important in the process.
- An important tip #1. I never write the "adult" version of their writing on the page. To me, this undermines the process. We are honoring their self-expression. When you re-write their expression - it sends the message their writing is not "correct" or good enough. I find each level of writing to have its own splendor and as you dwell in kid writing - you can truly "get" the written communication it is. It is disrespectful in my opinion to re-write in a child's journal. It is not the place.
- An important tip #2. I feel strongly about this - handwriting and writing are two separate processes in the beginning. Handwriting is the construction of specific line formations. Journal writing is learning how to capture thoughts on a page as words and sentences. A kindergarten student is new to both processes. Keep them separate!!
I do not give the children lined paper for journal writing at anytime during kindergarten (I use lined paper exclusively for handwriting practice). I feel it requires too much thought about the lines and not enough freedom in thinking. I want the children to focus on the sounds and what letters to use.