Mommy Musings: The Emergent Writer

Some time ago, I posted this on the blog.
What I didn’t know at the time, which I have just now learnt, is that DD is beginning to be an Emergent Writer, which is the first stage in writing development. (The subsequent stages are Developing Writers and Fluent Writers).

The following are characteristics of an emergent writer:-

  • Draws a picture to tell a story
  • Understands that writing is communication in the written form
  • Uses scribble writing and symbol writing
  • Using left to right progression
  • Using initial consonant words
  • Using spaces between words
  • Selecting writing topics
  • Telling a story or “reading” writing to other

Emergent writers, I am told, also sometimes may still confuse the orientation of their letters, e.g. writing a letter in its reverse mirror image.

A page from DD's notebook

About a couple of years ago, a colleague of mine with a 3.5 year old son, told me that she got so incrementally frustrated with her son – who was writing the number 7 in reverse mirror image, despite being told the right way to write it – that after five times of reprimanding, in extreme frustration and misinterpretation that he was doing it on purpose, she lost her temper, shouted at him, and grabbed his offending hand and bit it!

At the time, I was shocked to hear that, but the other day, not knowing about the concept of emergent writing, I too was frustrated with DD when she kept writing the numbers 2, 3 and 4 in reverse mirror image on a counting activity we were working on together. I recalled my colleague’s account, and as I tried to manage my own growing impatience, I now understood her frustration and why she did what she did.

That night, in our usual end of day catch up, I shared about it with DH, and that’s when he told me about emergent writers. Wow, a little understanding of early childhood theory goes a long way!

So now, I’ve gained a deeper appreciation of the little scribbles and stories in DD’s notebook, and the little successes in each progressive work.

It’s a long journey yet, with volumes of literature and theory to burrow through, but I’m going to keep at it, knowing it will help me make sense of the journey (and being reminded it is a journey, not a race!) towards fostering a lifelong love for literacy in our home.


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