Last week I was reminded of the thrill of emergent writers when I spent time in kindergarten and grade one. In both classes, the students were eager to write, thoroughly engaged in the process and enthusiastically able to explain what they had written.
Despite the various levels of their writing – pictures only, mock letters, a string of letters, invented spelling or more conventional spelling – all students were engaged in the process. Each stage is an important one for emergent writers.
Although our ultimate goal is to teach students to be effective writers, teachers of emergent writers must be careful not to overcorrect. Overcorrection quickly dampens the enthusiasm of our young writers. When they are still experimenting with language and letters, proper spelling and punctuation are secondary. We must celebrate their attempts at language and honour what they have written.
Rather than correct their work, we can teach the elements of good writing through modelling and explicit instruction. And by the way, good writing includes much more than proper conventions… just ask our kindergarten and grade one students!