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How Do Kindergarteners Write?

June 15, 2020 | Bridget O'Dowd

This month marks the beginning of Writers’ Workshop, a routine that will continue throughout the winter and spring terms.

Several afternoons a week, the students gather together in a whole group to learn a new writing strategy, just like real writers do at writing conferences. The teacher models a particular writing strategy, such as labeling a drawing about a real life event, listening for initial sounds, or how to make mistakes and move on. The students are then sent off to work on their own compositions.

Writing can be an illustration. In January, writing takes many forms. The most important element of writing is drawing a detailed picture. A detailed picture serves as a foundation for building a story.

Writing can also be a few letters. The students are first challenged to label their pictures. In writing the word “me,” the students are asked only to write their sounds that they hear. Some students may only hear the /m/ sound, while others may hear both the /m/ and /e/ sound. Both are developmentally appropriate forms of writing in Kindergarten.

Writing may look like a string (or a line of letters). As their writing develops in organization, students begin to write sentences at the bottom of the page, just like books do. Many students include initial and ending sounds.

Eventually, writing may look like a sentence, with spaces between groups of letters. As students begin to notice spaces authors use in books, they will begin to incorporate spacing of words into their own work.

Right now, writing will always look autobiographical. Students are asked to write true stories about themselves. While imaginative drawing is fun, it’s easiest to include details and a firm storyline when the event actually exists in the student’s memory.

Writing will also lead the way to reflection. After the writing time has finished, we all gather together again to reflect on our writing. We discuss topics, what happens when you make a mistake, and strategies we used to listen for sounds.

A future blogpost will give insight into how you can write with you child at home. In the meantime, I hope you will have the opportunity to ask your child, “What did you write about today?”

Bridget O'Dowd

Ms. O’Dowd came to Mustard Seed in 2017, after moving to Hoboken in 2016. She found a school and a community all in one package at Mustard Seed! Having taught kindergarten in Illinois before moving to New Jersey, Ms. O’Dowd has a passion for five-year-olds. She’s delighted to be a part of the kindergarten team and loves to read and share in story with students. Her favorite moment of the day is during a good read aloud, when she looks out and sees the faces of children showing empathy and emotion in response to the story. Ms. O’Dowd’s hobbies include exploring new neighborhoods, watching BBC documentaries, traveling to visit family, and eating her way through New York City.

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