Students writing on paper

Emergent Writing and Why It Matters

According to the National Early Literacy Panel, early or emergent writing is a good predictor of one’s reading success later on in life. This is because writing is one of the fundamental skills a person should learn for him or her to be functionally literate.

That is why any activity that encourages writing—book project ideas, scribbling, or connecting the dots or ideas—is necessary.

But how does writing actually enhance reading and what are its other benefits? Read on to find out.

Enhances literacy

A study conducted by Annika Agélii Genlott and Åke Grönlund investigated the effects of writing on reading. The researchers invited 87 children in the first grade to participate in the study. They were divided into two groups—the control and test groups.

The students were observed for a year. The test group was encouraged to incorporate writing in their activities while the control group was taught as usual. The students’ reading and writing skills were assessed before and after the study commenced, and it yielded the following results:

  • More students achieved the “pass” level in the test group (87.8%) than in the control group (84.7%) after the study.
  • Students in the test group wrote longer, more logical stories than those in the control group.
  • Even students with low literacy skill, particularly ones that are dyslexic, were able to come up with a perfectly readable text containing almost 400 words.

What this study would like to point out is that writing enhances one’s literacy skill as early as the first grade. This is because writing activity also targets cognitive development. When we write, our brain activates sensation, thinking, and movement control. Brain imaging studies prove this. The process of writing activates different circuits in our brain that are not activated by other communication activities, such as typing.

Practices fine motor skills

Fine motor skills are the movements that involve the wrist, fingers, and hands for the upper limb and the feet and toes for the lower limb. It’s necessary for young learners to develop these, as they need to use those skills almost every day, such as when they need to pick an object using their fingers.

Writing enhances one’s motor skills in several ways:

  • It practices hand and finger strength. Handwriting involves controlling a pen or pencil, which aids in generating muscle power and exerting force. The more the learners practice writing, the more control they have over the strength their hands and fingers produce.
  • It practices eye-hand coordination. Aside from learning how to control the muscles, writing also teaches learners how to control their eyes so they can direct their hands.
  • It practices object manipulation. Once a learner is able to control his or her writing tool successfully, he or she may also able to manipulate other similarly sized items, such as toothbrush, comb, spoon, and fork.

What can you do?

Woman typing on her laptop in a coffeeshop

As a teacher, you should teach early writing skills in your students. You can do this by acknowledging and encouraging the learners’ early signs of interest in writing. Drawing and scribbling are good examples. You may ask them to explain their drawing and write the keywords underneath their sketch.

You may also look for writing activities online, which you can self-publish and turn into professionally bound books. This process will inspire them to write more, which will result in more learning opportunities for them.