I am completely fascinated by literacy development in young children. When I was teaching kindergarten, I wrote my seminar paper on “emergent writing,” which is the writing children do before they do “grown-up writing.” I chose three students in my class and diligently documented how their writing looked over a series of months and what they said about it.
Now that Lydia has her own notebook and crayons for writing, the teacher/researcher in me is back in full force. I feel like I need to get out my date stamp and hand-held recorder so I don’t miss a single detail in the way she is demonstrating what she learns.
Her notebook is full of page after page of happy faces. Each happy face has a circle for a head and a few dots and scribbles in the middle for eyes, nose, and mouth.
After a while of making plain happy faces, she has started adding hats, knees, and feet. Oh, how I love this girl.
I remember from my days of reading scholarly articles on the topic of children’s literacy that there comes a point when very young people can distinguish between pictures and text. I am holding back the tears as I show you Lydia’s first attempts at writing words.
Usually when she is writing text, she is writing a name. Sometimes I will spell out “Lydia” or “Mommy” and she will methodically make marks on the paper as I say each letter. Sometimes she will say some of the letters in her name as she writes it. Her favorite letter to say is y.
So do you think I should be starting my doctoral thesis soon? It almost kills me to let this fleeting phase of cognitive development slip by. Doctor Amy. That sounds nice, right?