Written in cursive on whiteboard, this piece of paper has been a staple of many children’s journals for decades.
And now, it’s been adopted as a writing tool by the next generation of preschoolers.
A new report from the Pew Research Center finds that the new wave of preschooler writers is using it to create meaningful stories and reflectively write essays, as well as share thoughts and experiences with their peers.
The findings underscore the importance of preschool writing in the modern-day learning landscape.
While writing is now seen as a secondary activity for many preschoolers, this is changing as their writing skills improve, the report finds.
“Our research suggests that as preschoolers learn to write more and more independently, their use of writing as a way to share ideas, express feelings, and explore their own ideas becomes more prominent,” said Laura Flanders, lead author of the report and associate director of the Pew Writing Project.
Flanders and her colleagues analyzed data from over 6,000 preschoolers who were ages 3 to 5 and participated in the 2016 Reading Across the Curriculum Study.
Researchers asked the preschoolers to describe how they use writing as they learn to read.
The report found that preschoolers were using the writing tool to express themselves, to discuss ideas, and to think about their feelings.
In addition, preschoolers used it to express their opinions and feelings about different topics, and even to think through and discuss other ideas.
For example, preschooler Lauren, who was 3, wrote about her favorite foods, including chicken and eggplant soup.
She said the soup she used to cook is great, but it would be better if she made it with other ingredients instead of just soup.
Other children were using writing to share thoughts or experiences.
For instance, preschool student Nana said she uses writing to help her feel better after a traumatic event or injury.
Other preschoolers reported using writing in ways like sharing stories and making friends.
In the report, preschool students were asked to write about topics ranging from a parent’s birthday party to how they felt when they got their first break.
The authors noted that many preschools offer different types of reading and writing tools, and some of the most popular preschool writing tools include whiteboards and colored pencils.
“Many of the children we surveyed were writing in whiteboards or colored pencil pens because of the variety of writing tools they use,” Flanders said.
“We also found that many children are using the use of whiteboards as a shorthand for expressing themselves and their feelings, as it allows them to express and think about themselves and others.”
The study also found a trend toward more students using writing for self-expression.
Among preschoolers ages 3-5, just 11 percent of children ages 3 and younger wrote about themselves as their primary form of self-expressing, and just 14 percent wrote about self-reflective feelings.
By contrast, among preschoolers 3-8, more than two-thirds of children reported writing about their emotions.
When it comes to how writing is shared, the authors found that most of the time, children were sharing their writing with their parents or others at home.
For example, a majority of preschool students shared their writing at home with a family member or friend.
Children also shared their writings with friends, who were often more likely to see their own writing as meaningful.
“Some preschoolers use their writing to be self-expressive and express their feelings,” Folsons said.
“The way we learn to communicate is by writing to ourselves, by writing about ourselves and by sharing our own feelings and thoughts and feelings.”
The authors found the majority of children who shared their stories in whiteboard or colored pens were able to write well.
But for children who used whiteboards, the writing skills were still lacking.
The researchers said that there are many things that can be done to help writers develop their writing.
One suggestion is to include a parent or caregiver as a reader or collaborator.
“This is important, especially for children, because if you don’t have a parent to read to, you don, too,” Foes said.
Another option is to use a non-invasive technique called “self-instructions,” which can be learned by a child as a toddler.
The researchers found that while many children learned the technique by themselves, they were still more likely than their peers to learn by watching videos.
In addition, the researchers said there are plenty of activities that preschool students can do to help them develop their skills.
For instance, the study found that students often had to share their writing and experiences to others in order to achieve a level of competence in writing.
This practice can help to build the writing tools necessary to get better at writing, the group said.
Other important activities include engaging in group writing, which can give children an opportunity to share experiences with others.
Another way to build skills is by making