The making of a young writer: Emergent writing in kindergarten

Kathryn Gold Smerling, Fordham University


The purpose of this study was to explore the nature of emergent writing in a kindergarten class throughout a school year. It was an ethnographic study which recorded the process of learning to write through observation, videotapes, field notes, and a detailed record of the children's work. The participants were 14 kindergarten children in a private school in the suburbs of Boston. The presentation of data was descriptive; the data collection and analysis utilized hypotheses generating methodology. Two major categories emerged from this data analysis. These were labeled: Writing for Self and Writing for Others. The two categories were further classified into four purposes: writing to explore/experiment, writing for "writing's sake," writing to make a statement, and writing to generate a response. Each purpose was employed (by the children) either with the intent to satisfy one's self or to satisfy others. The major hypotheses resulting from this study were: that each child uses different writing strategies in the process of becoming a fluent writer; that there are distinct differences in the strategies that are used by boys and girls; that children act as catalysts for each other in learning writing strategies; and that the adult's role is pivotal in developing emergent writing. The investigator suggests further study of: the classroom environment, the role of the teacher, assessment procedures, and parent involvement. Specific recommendations geared toward application of this research include: (a) restructuring of the classroom environment to incorporate the classroom as a community, (b) viewing the teacher as a collaborator and facilitator in learning, (c) training teachers in observational techniques, (d) recognizing the teacher's own need for support and reflection in personal and professional growth, (e) understanding that quality education is inherent in the values and skills of communication, (f) incorporating parent involvement and parent education into classroom practices, and (g) rethinking measures of assessment to include definitions of child process as well as observable progress.

Subject Area

Language arts|Curricula|Teaching|Preschool education

Recommended Citation

Smerling, Kathryn Gold, "The making of a young writer: Emergent writing in kindergarten" (1991). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9123135.