Play is a critical part of early childhood development. It allows children to develop their imagination, dexterity, and physical, cognitive, and emotional strength and engage and interact with the world around them. Play is essential to healthy brain development.
Just as it is essential for the development of oral language abilities, play is also a great strategy for developing writing skills in elementary school children. Models of writing should consider play as well as metacognitive activities to lay the foundation for writing in the upper grades. (Daiute)
Strategies to help children develop their writing skills through play:
Collaborative writing is excellent for young and inexperienced writers because it gives children the opportunity to learn about the kinds of thinking authors usually do alone. Encourage students to discuss what they are going to write with a partner before they begin. Composing aloud allows children to use their everyday language and thought that they’re comfortable with to extend each other’s abilities. Collaborative writing also will enable children to reveal cognitive processes as they collaborate with their writing partners. (Daiute, 8)
Playful writing helps to provide a foundation for subsequent brainstorming. Experienced writers use a goal-directed approach to writing, with writers’ goals motivating planning and revising. Unlike experienced writers, beginning writers tend to write as ideas emerge from memory. In the early stages of writing, young writers should avoid controlling their thought processes too much. Through playful composing, students manipulate language, reality, and relationships without being aware of the writing principles they may be using. (Daiute, 9)
Play with Combinations and Contrasts of Sounds
In the same way that playing with sound helps a toddler learn the phonological system of their language, playing with combinations and sounds helps emerging writers learn how to elaborate stories and develop characters through making up names, such as “Silly Sally” or Funny Phil,” Play allows children to master unfamiliar aspects of literacy. (Daiute, 10)
When elementary-aged children view writing as play, they are also developing their cognitive and imaginative abilities, which help to lay a foundation for writing as they move on to higher grades. Young writers should not be expected to use the same writing process as adult authors, as they do not yet possess the ability to use effective metacognitive strategies like older writers.
Since children’s attitudes towards writing are formed at a young age, writing as play is an excellent way to encourage and develop writing skills so that they can progressively handle other forms of writing instruction as their cognitive abilities develop. When children see writing as a chore, they are less likely to create positive associations with writing.
The Presso platform is a great way to encourage playful composition. Students get excited to see their writing published, and they want to keep writing. Academic writing at an early age should be playful and fun. Pressto teaches writing skills along with media literacy to help students become better writers.
Learn more about Pressto here:
Daiute, Colette. “The Role of Play in Writing Development.” <i>Research in the Teaching of
English</i>, vol. 24, no. 1, 1990, pp. 4–47.
Thank you to Christy Burke