I once observed a five year old child show his teacher a picture he’d drawn. Underneath the picture was a jumble of letters that didn’t form any identifiable words. The teacher asked the child to read their “story”. The child remained silent. The teacher asked again. The child continued to remain silent. The teacher then asked, “Do you know what it says?” The child shook his head. Finally in frustration the teacher blurted, “If you can’t tell me what the the story says then I don’t want to see it!”
Sadly what this teacher didn’t understand was that children don’t always write to tell a story. In fact the letters may not even be related to the picture they’ve drawn. Young children often don’t see a distinction between words and pictures. They may say, “I drew (or “drawed”) my name”, or “I wrote a picture”. Sometimes the drawing may be complete and the child will simply fill the available space on their page to experiment with letter forms. This may also occur with numerals and shapes.
I think it’s important for us to remember that children’s motives for writing and drawing can be very different to that of our own. This understanding helps us to adjust our expectations and more fully appreciate what a child is attempting to achieve or communicate.