Preschool Children's Understanding of the Graphic Features of Writing

  • 투고 : 2011.10.08
  • 심사 : 2012.01.27
  • 발행 : 2012.02.28


This project examined 2, 3, and 4-year-old children (N = 34) in a university campus child care setting to assess their understanding of the graphic features they use in their emergent writing (to distinguish it from a drawing of the same referent). The graphic features present in samples of the children's work were examined and compared to the graphic features children could identify through verbal and nonverbal communication. We examined the frequencies of graphic feature identification, as well as significant differences between graphic feature usage and graphic feature identification. The most frequently used graphic features were linearity, unidirectionality, and small size of units. The most frequently identified graphic feature was conventional letter. Overall, children used significantly more graphic features than they were able to identify. Significant relationships comparing the 2-year-old group and 4-year-old group's usage and identification were also found. The findings are discussed in terms of their application to early childhood classrooms. Teachers can apply these findings when engaging children in conversations about their emergent writing; these discussions are explored as a beneficial teaching tool.



  1. Adi-Japha, E., Levin, I., & Solomon, S. (1998). Emergence of representation in drawing: The relation between kinematic and referential aspects. Cognitive Development, 13, 25-51.
  2. Akita, K., Padakannaya, P., Prathibha, B., Panah, M. A., & Rao, C. (2007). Drawing and emergent writing in young children. National Academy of Psychology, India, 52, 216-222.
  3. Brenneman, K., Massey, C., Machado, S. F., & Gelman, R. (1996). Young children's plans differ for writing and drawing. Cognitive Development, 11, 397-419.
  4. Clay, M. (1975). What did I write? Auckland, New Zealand: Heinemann Educational Books.
  5. Dyson, A. H. (2008). Staying in the (curricular) lines: Practice constraints and possibilities in childhood writing. Written Communication, 25, 119-159.
  6. Ferreiro, E., & Teberosky, A. (1982). Literacy before schooling. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.
  7. Gibson, E. J., & Levin, H. (1975). The psychology of reading. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
  8. Gombert, J. E., & Fayol, M. (1992). Writing in preliterate children. Learning and Instruction, 2, 23-41.
  9. Harste, J. C., Woodward, V. A., & Burke, C. L. (1984). Language stories and literacy lessons. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann Educational Books.
  10. Hildreth, G. (1936). Developmental sequences in name writing. Child Development, 7, 291-303.
  11. Karmiloff-Smith, A. (1992). Beyond modularity: A developmental perspective on cognitive science. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.
  12. Lavine, L. O. (1977). Differentiation of letterlike forms in prereading children. Developmental Psychology, 13, 89-94.
  13. Levin, I., & Bus, A. G. (2003). How is emergent writing based on drawing? Analyses of children's products and their sorting by children and mothers. Developmental Psychology, 39, 891-905.
  14. Levin, I., & Korat, O. (1993). Sensitivity to phonological, morphological and semantic cues in early reading and writing in Hebrew. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly, 39, 213-232.
  15. Love, A., Burns, S. M., & Buell, M. J. (2007). Writing: Empowering literacy. Young Children, 62, 12-19.
  16. Luria, A. R. (1929). The development of writing in the child. Problems of Marxist Education Volume 1 (pp. 143-176). Moscow: Academy of Communist Education.
  17. NICHD Early Child Care Research Network. (1998). The NICHD study of early child care (Report No. NIH-Pub-98-4318). Bethesda, MD: National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED427882)
  18. Pick, A. D., Unze, M. G., Brownell, C. A., Drozdal, J. G., & Hopmann, M. R. (1978). Young children's knowledge of word structure. Child Development, 49, 669-680.
  19. Sulzby, E., Barnhart, J., & Hieshima, J. (1989). Forms of writing and rereading from writing: A preliminary report. In J. Mason (Ed.), Reading and writing connection (pp. 31-63). Needham Heights, MA: Allyn & Bacon.
  20. Tolchinsky, L. (2003). The cradle of culture: Knowing about writing and numbers before being taught. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
  21. Tolchinsky-Landsmann, L., & Karmiloff-Smith, A. (1992). Children's understanding of notations as domains of knowledge versus referential-communicative tools. Cognitive Development, 7, 287-300.
  22. Tolchinksy-Landsmann, L., & Levin, I. (1985). Writing in preschoolers: An age-related analysis. Applied Psycholinguistics, 6, 319-339.
  23. Treiman, R., Cohen, J., Mulqueeny, K., Kessler, B., & Schechtman, S. (2007). Young children's knowledge about printed names. Child Development, 78, 1458-1471.
  24. Treiman, R., & Yin, L. (2011). Early differentiation between drawing and writing in Chinese children. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 108, 786-801.
  25. U.S. Census Bureau. (2005). Who's minding the kids? Child care arrangements: Spring 2005 detailed tables. Washington D.C.: U.S. Census Bureau.
  26. Vygotsky, L. S. (1978). Mind in society. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
  27. Whitehurst, G. J., & Lonigan, C. J. (1998). Child development and emergent literacy. Child Development, 69, 848-872.
  28. Yamagata, K. (2007). Differential emergence of representational systems: Drawings, letters, and numerals. Cognitive Development, 22, 244-257.

피인용 문헌

  1. Learning to Spell Words: Findings, Theories, and Issues vol.21, pp.4, 2017,
  2. Young children's knowledge about the links between writing and language vol.38, pp.4, 2012,
  3. Accuracy and Consistency of Letter Formation in Children With Developmental Coordination Disorder vol.53, pp.2, 2020,