Who writes what when?: Examining children’s early composing

Abstract

Conceptual models of early writing suggest multiple component skills support children’s early writing development. Although research interest in early writing skills has grown in recent years, the majority of studies focus narrowly on procedural knowledge or transcription skills (i.e., handwriting and spelling) to the relative exclusion of how children develop early composing skills, such as: children’s idea generation, adherence to the task, and translation of ideas into some form of writing. This study describes children’s composing skills in preschool and examines factors associated with children’s performance on a scaffolded writing task. Preschool-aged children (N = 245) from a variety of early childhood settings were assessed on a number of early literacy, language, and writing measures in the spring of the school year. Children’s written compositions were coded for features that captured both transcription (spelling and letter formation) and composing skills (translation and task adherence). Findings reveal that children’s composing skills fall into four distinct categories varying in sophistication of writing and connection to task. Although most children were able to orally communicate a response that related to the writing task, few were able to demonstrate communication that related to the task both orally and in writing. Composing group membership was related to prereading and cognitive skills, as well as other writing measures. Findings present an important step forward in understanding children’s composing skills and demonstrate how composing is concurrently related to other early literacy skills.

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Quinn, M.F., Bingham, G.E. & Gerde, H.K. Who writes what when?: Examining children’s early composing. Read Writ (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11145-020-10063-z

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Keywords

  • Composing
  • Early writing
  • Early literacy
  • Preschool
  • Self-regulation