The Developmental Stages of Writing
based on Richard Gentry's work
Writing is a process
that develops gradually; with exploration and experimentation, children
will acquire the diverse skills. Children may exhibit more than one
stage in a single piece of writing because it is a process and stages
are connected and will overlap. As they gain more experience with
reading, too, the writing growth will accelerate. Reading and writing
development go hand-in-hand.
Scribbling looks like random assortment of marks on a child's paper.
Sometimes the marks are large, circular, and random, and resemble
drawing. Although the marks do not resemble print, they are significant
because the young writer uses them to show ideas.
Symbols. Letter-like forms emerge, sometimes
randomly placed, and are interspersed with numbers. The children can
tell about their own drawings or writings. In this stage, spacing is
Letters. In the strings-of-letters phase,
students write some legible letters that tell us they know more about
writing. Students are developing awareness of the sound-to-symbol
relationship, although they are not matching most sounds. Students
usually write in capital letters and have not yet begun spacing.
Sounds Emerge. At this stage, students begin
to see the differences between a letter and a word, but they may not use
spacing between words. Their message makes sense and matches the
picture, especially when they choose the topic.
Represent Words. Students begin to leave
spaces between their words and may often mix upper- and lowercase
letters in their writing. They begin using punctuation and usually write
sentences that tell ideas.
Middle, and Final Sounds. Students in this
phase may spell correctly some sight words, siblings' names, and
environmental print, but other words are spelled the way they sounds.
Children easily hear sounds in words, and their writing is very
Phases. This writing is readable and
approaches conventional spelling. The students' writing is interspersed
with words that are in standard form and have standard letter patterns.
Spelling. Students in this phase can spell
most words correctly and are developing an understanding of root words,
compound words, and contractions. This understanding helps students
spell similar words.