What is the Connection Between Reading and Writing?

Many people believe that, upon entering school, children will first learn to read and then learn to write. The process to learning to read and write begins very early in a child's life, as children have contact with many forms of communication right from the start. Most children can identify common signs and logos by the age of 2-3 and they will begin to experiment with written forms of communicating long before they can read by scribbling. Reading and writing develop at the same time in young children and are interrelated. Children do not learn how to read first and then learn how to write, as writing is often easier for some children to begin with than reading. Children love to make marks on paper and, as they begin to realize that the symbols on pages are letters that form words, they will attempt to put their thoughts down on paper as well. The development of writing skills, as holds true with the development of speaking or reading, consists of stages that children pass through.

* Children begin their writing development by scribbling and otherwise making nonsense marks on paper.


* As their fine motor skills improve and they become more aware of what print looks like in books they may try to imitate it with nonsense letters.


* Once children can begin to reproduce letter forms, they will string letters together in a random order.


* As they begin to notice print in their environment, they will start copying words that they see around them. Some they will know the meaning of and some they won't.


* After children have learned that there is an association between letters and sounds they will begin one of the most important stages: invented spelling


Invented Spelling

I liked when the cow was in the moon.
As children become writers, they begin to invent spelling for the words that they wish to put on paper. Invented spelling is sometimes referred to as "temporary spelling" because it is used by children until they learn the conventions and rules that adults use when they spell. Invented spelling is a developmentally appropriate step in the process of learning to read and write. It does not interfere with a child's ability to spell correctly in later years. When children first learn to speak, we welcome the attempts they make to reproduce the sounds that they hear. This is exactly what beginning writers are doing with invented spelling.

Benefits of invented spelling include:

*encourages children to make vital connections between letters and sounds

* helps children to become independent writers as they ask for less help spelling words

* gives them the ability to write anything they say, leading to longer and more interesting stories

* allows children to write more words than they know how to read

* encourages children to take responsibility for their own learning as they have more control over what they write

*allows for extensive practice of phonics as they use letters to represent the sounds that they hear

Notice in the examples below that children begin invented spelling by reproducing the phonetic sounds that they hear. They usually leave out vowels and letters that don't make a distinct sound in a word.

My family went swimming.

My dog almost ran away.

My birthday is coming soon. I'm going to have balloons.

I am good at playing football.

We don't fight. We listen to our teacher.

I like to catch snow flakes.

I like my Mom's dress.

My birthday is coming up. I will invite Rachel.

I like to pick flowers in the spring. It is fun. I like red flowers.

Children will move toward more conventional spelling as their exposure and learning increase by adding vowel sounds, digraphs, etc. As their confidence grows, they will begin to put sentences together to tell a short story. This one, by a Kindergarten student in March, says:

Last year my mom and me planted a tree. We grew it from a seed. The seed already had a tree growing in it.

Your comments and questions regarding this Web page are welcome. Please e-mail to:

Janann Dostal -- jdostal@dubuque.k12.ia.us
Sandy Hanley -- shanley@dubuque.k12.ia.us

Last update: October 20, 2014

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