teaching thoughts · writing

Writing vs penmanship

Today I continue my series on my thoughts on education. Today’s topic is writing vs penmanship. Often times when people think about young children writing is has more to do with penmanship than actual writing. When we discuss writing in education it is not the process of putting words on paper… it is the process of putting thoughts on paper. Read that again!

We teach children that writing is a powerful way to share thoughts and information. And, if you know anything about children they LOVE to share their thoughts and information.

Writing is a process and has steps. I am not talking about the writing process (prewriting, drafting, revising, editing) while we do teach this in school too. I’m talking about the process of learning to write. Learning to put your thoughts on paper in a way that others can understand. I have shared these stages in the past. (click here)

When adults tell children exactly what to write (a dictation) or write it for them (scribing or for copying) we are taking away the power of writing. I would rather my students write one word on their own than copy a paragraph I stated. Now, don’t get me wrong there are times for dictations, scribing and copying, but we can’t confuse this with writing.

Again writing is the process of putting your own thoughts on paper.

When children are young then begin to scribble write or write random letters, numbers and symbols. Often this is not seen as writing, but it is! It is your child writing their thoughts on their own. When we start telling children that the work they do on their own is not good enough, not correct or acceptable…. they don’t want to write. When you make the writing process more about correct letter formation and not about the thoughts behind the writing… they don’t want to write.

We need to empower children. We need to praise the work and listen to the thoughts behind it. We need to challenge them to add more to their work. As they develop more phonics and sight word skills their sentences will expand. Their writing will develop into a more conventional form. But, until them we need to say “Please read me what you wrote”, even if what they wrote was random scribbles… recognize that they are writing.

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