ERIC Identifier: ED446341
Publication Date: 2000-12-00
Author: Lu, Mei-Yu
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse on Reading English and Communication Bloomington IN.
Writing Development. ERIC Digest D159.
The purpose of this digest is to review children's writing development from socio-cultural, generative, and developmental perspectives. The development of children's writing has its roots in their social interaction with other more competent members of the society through various meaningful, purposeful activities (Haneda & Wells, 2000; Newman & Roskos, 1997). In a literate society, children are immersed in a world of print. As they grow older, children usually show an interest in writing if they have opportunities to observe other people writing and are invited to participate in literacy activities, such as making shopping lists and listening to bedtime stories (Bissex, 1980; Martens, 1996; Purcell-Gates, 1996). Gradually, children realize that both oral and written languages are purposeful and meaningful activities (Bissex, 1980; Garton & Pratt, 1998).
ORAL LANGUAGE, ART, AND CHILDREN'S EARLY WRITING
PLAY AND WRITING DEVELOPMENT
Clay (1975) points out that when children explore with written language, they usually play with basic graphic features, such as the linearity of the print. In the observation of her own son's writing, Bissex (1980) found that he mentally manipulated and played with the arrangement of word strings (i.e., "You spell book B-O-O-K. To write 'look' you just change one letter--take away the B and add an L" [p.14]) while writing a song or lying on the bed.
CHILDREN'S NAMES: SPRINGBOARD TO WRITING DEVELOPMENT
LEARNING TO WRITE IN THE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL YEARS
As children's forms of writing diversify, their awareness of audience develops accordingly. In their early writing, children tend to write for an immediate or specific audience, such as their parents, relatives or friends. As new forms evolve from old forms, children apply both to achieve various purposes (Bissex, 1980).
In addition to changes in form and audience awareness, children's writing becomes more coherent and internally cohesive during the school years (Dyson & Freedman, 1991). Dyson and Freedman (1991) point out, "children become less likely to make reference outside the texts themselves (e.g., to begin texts with "This is") or to use pronouns without references (e. g., to use "He is" when who "he" "is" is not clear)." Another change appears in children's global structure of their written text; their text becomes longer and more complex over time (Beach, 1996; Dyson & Freedman, 1991).
Studies on the development and the complexity in children's writing, especially their story writing, have shown that before children start school, most of them already understand the underlying features of storytelling (Applebee, 1978; Martens, 1996). King and Rental (1982) investigated the development of complexity in children's story writing during the first two years of schooling. They found that as children's oral skill develops, the complexity of their writing increased accordingly. With coherence and internal connectedness, the development of writing continues throughout children's school years and into adulthood.
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