child. Teachers should be careful to record details about the child’s
writing, including which hand was used, how the child held the
writing implement, what stage of writing appeared, how long the
child engaged in writing, and where in the classroom the activity
took place. Such detailed notes help teachers monitor children’s
writing progress and also plan additional activities that build on
the interest of the children. Writing strategies and outcomes can be
quickly recorded on the writing assessment form in appendix D.
How can teachers explain emergent writing to parents?
Teachers can include information about writing stages in
newsletters and discuss the writing process during open houses or
parent meetings.Parents can support children’s emergent writing
when they understand the normal progression of children’s devel-
opment in writing. Seeing specific examples of the various stages
is especially helpful. Parents come to view their children’s writing
attempts as important steps in a long-term process and become
excited when they see new stages emerge.
How can teachers use writing activities to bridge home
Teachers can design writing activities and materials to send
home and display project documentation for parents to see.A class-
room prop such as a small teddy bear can rotate among homes
and serve as a writing catalyst. Parents can help their children
document what they did with the bear, and children can share the
written account when they return to school with the bear (activity
4.16). A literacy suitcase, which contains a variety of writing mate-
rials, can also circulate among homes. Literacy suitcases are dis-
cussed in chapter 8.
Parents are naturally interested in class projects and events.
Documentation boards, which may also include samples of chil-
dren’s writing, keep parents informed about important learning
experiences at school.
1. Marjorie V. Fields, “Talking and Writing: Explaining the Whole Language
Approach to Parents.” The Reading Teacher,vol. 41, no. 9 (May 1988):
86 More Than Letters