Handbook of Language and Literacy Development - a Roadmap from 0 to 60 Months

children image

Where and How to Get Helpclick to print Print

Written by: Dorothy Steffler, Concordia University College of Alberta, Sarah Critten, University of Hertfordshire, and Heather Sample Gosse, University of Oklahoma

The writing section of the Handbook to Language and Literacy Development 0 to 60 Months provides an introduction to children’s writing development from birth to five years and an outline of the skills and proficiencies considered typical for children at specific ages. The writing development of individual children will, however, vary depending on a variety of factors, including fine motor skills, vision, hearing, oral language, social-emotional development, reading, and cognitive development.

It is important for parents and caregivers to understand the difference between lagging in development and an actual writing disability. If you find that your child is lagging in only one area of development there is often no need to be concerned as children do not develop at the same rate in all areas. If your child is still struggling in an isolated aspect of writing development at school age address your concerns to your child’s preschool or kindergarten teacher.

If, on the other hand, you find that your child is lagging in multiple areas, or if there is a large difference in one specific area of development compared to another, you should contact a professional. Early intervention is important in addressing difficulties. If you have questions about your child’s writing and spelling development after reviewing the information on this website, contact a Public Health Nurse, Reading Specialist, Speech-Language Pathologist or Occupational Therapist.

Public Health Nurses are professional nurses who work with families in the community and receive training for educating families about how to aid their children’s development in many areas, including reading and writing. Public Health Nurses offer demonstrations of how to read with and interact with children to develop literacy abilities. They also provide valuable links to and contact with community resources for families, such as preschool programs, reading and language clinics, and many other services available in the community for parents with young children. Public Health Nurses are typically employed through public health authorities, departments of health, or community programs. To find your community’s Public Health Nurse, contact your local public health authority

Reading Specialists are professionals with specific training and experience in reading and writing development. Reading Specialists work directly with families or through schools to determine whether a child’s reading, writing and spelling abilities are typical for children of the same age, and whether delays exist. When delays exist, Reading Specialists refer children for testing or perform their own assessments to determine the specific nature of any possible delay and suggest options for helping children improve their reading, writing and spelling abilities. Reading Specialists are employed throughout Canada in private clinics or through arrangements with local agencies, such as schools or public health authorities. To find a Reading Specialist in your area, contact your child’s current or future school, or the public health authority. Local schools will have information on services available for school-age children.

Speech-Language Pathologists are professionals with specific training and experience in speech and language development. Many Speech-Language Pathologists who work with preschoolers have expertise and experience in promoting early reading and writing skills. The services of Speech-Language Pathologists are particularly important when delays in early reading, writing, and spelling development may relate to speech and language difficulties. They work with children and their families and caregivers to determine whether a speech and language delay exists, and provide treatment and education if a problem is found. They are employed throughout Canada in private clinics and in public agencies such as child development centres, preschools, schools, hospitals, public health units, and rehabilitation centres. To find a Speech-Language Pathologist in your area, contact your local public health unit. Local schools will have information on services available for school-age children.

Occupational Therapists are professionals with specific training and experience in addressing fine motor difficulties related to writing development. Everyone has an occupation or job. A child’s occupation is to grow, learn, do schoolwork, and play. Occupational therapy (or OT) helps children who have physical, sensory, or cognitive differences learn to carry out everyday activities. These include children who need help with their printing or handwriting or in developing strategies to help them remain focused in learning situations. To find an Occupational Therapist in your area, contact your local public health unit. Local schools will have information on services available for school-age children.

A great deal can be done to assist children who experience difficulty or show signs of possible difficulties in learning to write. Early detection of any difficulty is critical. When in doubt, check it out!

Steffler, D., Critten, S., & Sample Gosse, H. (2008). When and How to Get Help for Children’s Pre-Writing and Pre-Spelling. In L.M. Phillips (Ed.), Handbook of language and literacy development: A Roadmap from 0 – 60 Months. [online], pp. 1 - 2. London, ON: Canadian Language and Literacy Research Network. Available at: Handbook of language and literacy development