Developmental Writing Stages

Introduction The learning process of reading, writing and speaking for children are taught at home and at school. While reading often begins with recognizing the letters of the alphabet and matching appropriate letters to the sounds, the writing process is a method of connecting words to print. When a child starts to hold a crayon, his process of learning to write commences. As writing is a developmental process that children go through at their own pace each writing stage is an important experience that offers children the time to explore and experiment with their own writing.

These stages overlap as children progress and reach the writing stages at different ages. Developmental Stages of Writing Based on the works of Richard Gentry and “The Conventions of Writing Developmental Scale”, there are eight stages of writing development namely: scribbling, letter-like symbols, strings of letters, beginning sounds emerge, consonant represent words, initial, middle and final sounds, transitional phases and standard spelling (Fox Chapel Area School District, 2008; Hudon, 2007). At the scribbling stage, the child’s markings are large, circular, random, resembles drawing and includes exploratory movements (ibid.

). Marks are often light colored and are the result of banging the drawing tool on paper, dragging, or sweeping as the child is just starting to get acquainted with the tool (Bailer, 2003). As the child draws, his or her attention may be elsewhere. At the letter-like symbol stage, spacing is rarely present and the child begins to produce letter-like forms that show some similarity to the letters that are randomly placed and interspersed with numbers (Fox Chapel Area School District, 2008; Hudon, 2007).

The children can also discuss their own drawings or writings (Crosby & Ongie, (n. d). Children write some legible letters in capital letters that do not have appropriate matching of letter and sound at the string of letter phase (Meek & Vandermeer, 2000). The writings do not have spacing and the first letters to appear in their writing are usually found in their names. Although unrecognizable, children may attempt to read their message (McCardle, 2008)

At the beginning sounds emerge stage, children begin to see the difference between a letter and a word, but they do not use spacing between words (Fox Chapel Area School District, 2008; Hudon, 2007). Their message makes sense and it matches the picture, especially when they personally choose the topic (ibid. ). The children use some letters to match sounds and use a beginning letter to represent the whole word (McCardle, 2008). At this stage, children tend to reverse letters and words as they explore the physical properties of print (Crosby & Ongie, (n.

d). The consonants represent words stage shows that children begin to leave spaces between their words, may often mix upper and lowercase letters in their writing and write sentences that tell ideas (Fox Chapel Area School District, 2008; Hudon, 2007). At this stage, they write words with beginning and ending sounds and spell some high frequency words correctly (McCardle, 2008). This is also known as the semiphonetic stage where children write with appropriate letter and sound matching and with spacing between words (Meek & Vandermeer, 2000).

Children who are at the initial, middle and final sounds phase may spell correctly some sight words, siblings’ names, and environmental print but other words are spelled the way they sound (Fox Chapel Area School District, 2008; Hudon, 2007). This is also the phonetic stage whereby children write with appropriate letter and sound matching for all audible phonemes in each word (Meek & Vandermeer, 2000). A readable, interspersed with words writings that follows the standard form and letter patterns are at the transitional phase (Fox Chapel Area School District, 2008; Hudon, 2007).

This writing also approaches conventional spelling (ibid. ). Children at this stage are writing words the way they sound, leave spaces between words, use punctuation marks, spell many high frequency words correctly and write one of more sentences (McCardle, 2008). Finally, at the standard spelling phase, children can spell most words correctly and are developing an understanding of root words, compound words, contractions and spelling patterns (Fox Chapel Area School District, 2008; Hudon, 2007; Meek & Vandermeer, 2000).

This is also known as the conventional stage of writing. Conclusion All children go through the developmental stages of writing. Although some may be more advanced than the other, all children will go through the stages at different ages as each child is unique. It is important to prepare the young children’s mind and body by incorporating some home and school activities that will help them explore the printed form of language.


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Crosby, J. & Ongie, A. (n.d.). Early Writing Experiences: A Parent’s Guide to Early Writing Experiences for Preschoolers. East Tennessee State University Child Study Center. Retrieved April 23, 2008 from

Fox Chapel Area School District (2008). The Developmental Stages of Writing. Retrieved April 23, 2008 from

Hudon, L. (2007). Knowing Your Child as a Writer. Yarbrough Elementary School. Auburn, AL. Retrieved April 23, 2008 from

McCardle, L. (2008). Early Writing Development. Retrieved April 23, 2008 from

Meek, N. and Vandermeer, M. (2000). Process Writing. Rockets Fern Bluff Elementary, Round Rock ISD. Retrieved April 23, 2008 from