The Role of Writing in Emergent Literacy

Reading and writing are mutually supportive and interactive processes. Good readers tend to be good writers, and good writers tend to do well in reading (Strickland, 1991; Teale & Sulzby, 1989). Both reading and writing require that the beginning reader focus on and think about print and the relationship between letters and sounds.

Both reading and writing introduce children to the elements that are parts of stories (e.g., characters, settings, conflicts, and resolutions). Familiarity with story elements contributes to the understanding of stories and to reading achievement.

Invented/Temporary Spelling

Based on her extensive review of the research, Adams (1990) concludes that invented spelling promotes the development of beginning reading skills. Chomsky (1979), Choate and Castle (1989), Cunningham and Cunningham (1992), Ehri (1988), and Richgels (1987) have also cited the benefits of using invented spelling, now often referred to as temporary spelling, for reading and writing.

Clarke (1988) compared students who were encouraged to use invented spelling with those who were not encouraged to use invented spelling in their writing during the school year. Those encouraged to use invented spelling wrote significantly longer, more elaborate stories. On posttests these students also scored significantly higher in spelling and reading.

Clarke's results are significant. They suggest that children who are encouraged to use invented spelling develop better word analysis skills, probably because they have had greater opportunities to practice and apply what they know about letter-sound associations in their writing. These results should also help to eliminate the fear of some parents and even teachers that children who use invented spelling become poor spellers. There is no basis in the research literature for this fear; the evidence, instead, clearly favors the use of invented spelling.


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