All children develop at their own pace. You’ve heard that before, but you’re concerned your child is not able to keep up in school. You know not to compare, but you end up doing it anyway...
Writing is especially easy to compare between children because the product is so concrete. A parent might see a child of the same age writing full sentences while their child is barely writing a word. Before you go into a panic, remember that children truly do develop at their own pace. So instead of comparing, keep an eye out for your child’s own evolution in writing ability. To do that you need to know a bit more about how young children grow as writers.
Your child will most likely start writing before you even realize it. How is this possible? The writing process begins with pictures. Children learn how to hold writing instruments correctly and they scribble. This is how they first render their thoughts on paper.
If you find your child is writing stories through pictures, ask questions about them and point to specific elements for your child to describe. These details will later manifest themselves into story elements when the child is writing words to describe characters, settings, and emotions.
The next step in the writing process for young children is called labeling. This starts by adding an initial letter next to the object or person in the picture. Ask questions, such as: “How can you show the viewer that this is a picture of mom?” and “What letter do you hear at the beginning of mom? Mmmmoom.” Mom will be "m" at the beginning, and that is just fine! Eventually, initial sounds will become beginning and end sounds, which will subsequently include more letters as your child learns to sound out words.
Provide a word chart for high frequency sight-words that come up a lot. They can use the chart to reference the spelling of words like “it” and “the” so that they can write with greater ease. With continued practice and exposure, those words will be the key to helping them write short sentences.