Emergent writing

Emergent writing is the process of understanding that writing is a form of communication. Children’s reading and writing skills develop simultaneously, as they are interrelated. This means that reading skills improve children’s ability to write and writing skills improve children’s ability to read.

Below we have outlined expectations for emergent writing and how to encourage your child to develop these skills.

child writing

Image source: flickr.com

Children can learn a lot through being able to freely interact with books and writing equipment.


Interacting with books

Although it’s great to read to your child from a very early age, this isn’t the only thing that is going to help them with emergent writing and reading. It’s important not to expect too much too soon. If you try and force your child into reading with you, they are going to feel negative about it and will find it much more difficult to develop their skills.

Instead of just having structured reading times when you read with your child, give them the opportunity to interact with books freely. This means letting them handle and manipulate books.

Leave books lying around for them to pick up and play with. In time they will begin to look at and recognise them. You will also find that your child begins to interact with books verbally. It’s likely they’ll start babbling when you read to them; this is how they imitate your reading.



Something as simple as talking to your children (even the youngest of babies) can also help to develop their brain structures and improve their language and literacy skills later on. In time, children will not only listen to the sound of your voice but also the words you are saying. Getting them to repeat words when they’re a little older is a great way to assist them in developing their vocabularies.

You can also facilitate your child’s literacy development is by pointing out words in other places, such as on street signs and posters.

girl writing

Image source: flickr.com

Let your children play with pencils, crayons and markers – it’ll help them learn to communicate through writing.


Play with writing instruments

As we mentioned earlier, reading and writing are linked, so it is important that you let your child play with writing instruments such as pens, markers and crayons in order to facilitate emergent writing. Give them plenty of scrap paper to play with and leave them to scribble away.

Don’t try and get them to write certain words too early on. It’s more important that your child learns how to use the instruments and begins to understand how they can express themselves using them. It’s likely you’re going to end up with plenty of scribbled-on pieces of paper stuck to your fridge for a good while but in time, your child will begin to write words and draw pictures that make more sense to you.


Writing their name

One of the first words your child is likely to learn how to write is their own name. This is due to the fact that at this stage, their own name will be one of the most important things to your child and something they have heard over and over again.

Seeing your child write their name for the first time will be a huge milestone and something that should be celebrated. The more you praise and encourage your child with their emergent writing, the more motivated they will feel to learn how to write and read other words too.



Writing and reading are not skills that simply develop over night; they take time, hard work and patience. Our advice is not to get too caught up in expectations of your child. Provide them with the tools they need i.e. books, paper and writing equipment, constantly communicate with them and read with them every day and your little one will soon pick up the basics they need to learn how to communicate through writing.

Written by Carly Garrett

Image Credits: ShanMcG213 and mliu92