Written Communication

Written Communication (Writing) 

What is written communication (writing)? 

The components involved in written communication are the physical performance of handwriting, typing, spelling, grammar and story planning. 

Written communication or writing is often thought of as the physical performance of handwriting. However, we know that efficient writing may occur either by hand or typing and involves the complex and concurrent integration of many skills. 

Why is written communication (writing) important? 

The extent to which a child is able to demonstrate their academic ability is significantly reliant on a student’s ability to capture their thoughts in written communication. For each year level and academic task that a student attempts there is usually a prescribed (known) or unwritten expectation of how much should be written, by what means and how to structure that information. By the time students reach high school, there are usually word limit guidelines. However, the early years of schooling are more flexible, though there are some key expectations and abilities that students should meet. 

With the increasing shift to keyboard use, it must be acknowledged that keyboards are not the answer that we often expect them to be. This is because they only remove some of the written communication pre-requisite skills that might challenge a student. Students who have difficulty with the physical production of handwriting are often assumed to find this the only or largest challenge to written communication. It is important to note that the underlying physical skills to perform handwriting are the same for keyboard skills. Nonetheless while the physical demands may be an issue for some, in many cases, it is only part of the issue, and it is the other more cognitive based skills that need further development (e.g. story planning, spelling) that add to slow speed or avoidance. 

What underlying skills are nececessary to develop written communication (writing) skills?

  • Bilateral integration: Using two hands together with one hand leading (e.g. opening a jar lid; with the other helping to stabilise the jar. Note: equal use of hands in typing). 
  • Object manipulation: The ability to skilfully manipulate tools, including the ability to hold and move pencils and scissors with control, controlled use of everyday tools such as a toothbrush, hairbrush, and cutlery. 
  • Hand and finger strength: An ability to exert force against resistance using the hands and fingers. 
  • Postural control: The ability to stabilize the trunk and neck to enable coordination of other limbs. 
  • Concept understanding: Helps a child to understand about direction, location, position, number, quantity, sequence, attributes, dimension, size and similarities and differences. This allows a child to become more specific in their use of language. 
  • Receptive (understanding) language for comprehension. 
  • Expressive (using) language: Ability to express themselves verbally. 
  • Literacy skills: Understanding of sentence structure, grammar and spelling rules. 

You can tell there are problems with written communication (writing) if the child: 

  • Is slow to complete written tasks or tires rapidly when writing. 
  • Is able to explain their ideas verbally, but struggles to write them despite providing verbal answers which are lengthy and articulate. 
  • Has difficulty formulating, organising ideas and structuring them appropriately on paper. 
  • Has difficulty generating ideas for stories. 
  • Has difficulty retaining and using the spelling rules. 
  • Is inconsistent with the use of grammar. 
  • Is not meeting accepted standards of written communication expectations such as: 
 Year level Content 
Beginning of Nursery (3 years)Basic shapes (-,I,O) Knows letters in their own name. Begins to recognise numbers 1-5.  
End of Nursery  (5 years)Complete mastery of pre-writing shapes (-,I,O,+,/,□,\,X Δ). Able to write name. Knows letters beyond their own name. Recognises and able to write numbers 1-5.  
Primary 1All letters of the alphabet and all numbers. Able to write basic words that are recognisable. Begins to put sentences together. Able to write regular words, by listening for the sounds, using the 42 letter sounds.