Writing at five years of age

Creative writing at five years of age!

Yesterday morning I received this letter from a head teacher of a school where all the teaching staff, including the head, have been trained in Sounds-Write:

Dear John,
Please find enclosed a copy of a piece of unaided writing recently carried out by a child at our school. It is a testament to the power of Sounds-Write! The ability of the programme to enable children to have the confidence to write any word they know is clearly reflected here.
The piece was written by a Year 1 girl. She has a February birthday. She is in a class of 28 Year 1 children. She joined us in Reception, where she followed a daily programme of the Initial Code. She has started the Extended Code in Year 1 since September.
The task was a whole-class exercise in extended writing at the end of the half-term for assessment purposes. It was an open task. The children were requested to write about their family. No support was provided.
I hope you enjoy reading it.

Here is the text the child (5 years and 8 months)wrote:

my family
my family is disfunchenel. my Brother is a psiapath
my sister is a imbaseeal and she has a sindrom
my mother is nurotik
my Father is xenfobik and I am a jinias.

The moral of the story? If you teach children – even from an early age – to read and spell, they can write anything they want. And, by the way, the girl’s parents appreciated the humour of the account!

4 thoughts on “Creative writing at five years of age!

  1. What a fabulous vocab. this little tucker has! I'm amazed at his use of 'ps' for s and 'x' for z. Do you know if those spellings were displayed in the classroom, John?

  2. Actually, the 'little tucker' is a girl, Anon, but the answer is no – at least not the complex spellings of the sounds 's' as ps and 'z' as x.
    Apparently, the family play the game, 'As I was going to XXX, I saw an antelope’. The next person, says, 'As I was going to XXX, I saw an antelope and something beginning with /b/’, etc.
    What the parents do when the child gets to the letter X in the alphabet would be to say that when a word begins with X, the letter represents the sound /z/.
    However, it is obviously the case that the parents use and expose their children to complex language and almost without doubt read to the child from texts that are always just ahead of the child's knowledge and experience.

  3. I would be rather worried about a child who could write that piece, but at the school I work at it is more likely to be a fairly accurate depiction of the family than a 'joke'. I didn't find it very amusing…

  4. With respect Chas, I think you're missing the point – which is that if children are taught that the sounds of the language can be represented in writing, they are given the code knowledge and the skills needed to put that knowledge into practice, they can write anything they are capable of saying.
    At five years of age, they may not spell everything correctly – far from it – but they know how the writing system works. And, later, as teaching progresses, it can be fine-tuned.
    What is also wonderful to see is that, weeks after accomplishing a piece of writing, the children can still read it, their parents can read it, and the teachers can read it, which is more than one can say for the gobbledygook, educationalists call 'invented writing.

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