Exploring adult child conversations to support young writers

Janet Scull, Noella Mackenzie, Linda Harrison, Natalie Thompson

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstract


Of all language and communication activities, writing is the most complex and for many children the most difficult. Research has established the importance of adult-child interactions as adults play with, talk with and read to young children in the first years of life, but there is a shortage of research about adult-child interactions when young children are drawing and writing. This paper reports on a study designed to explore the ways in which Early Childhood Practitioners interact with children as they engage in early mark-making, scribble, drawing and writing. Young children were video taped or photographed while they created their artefacts and participated in conversations about their texts. The recordings accurately captured conversations, gestures and non-verbal information to isolate the key features of the adult-child language interactions, the contextual factors and pedagogical supports and strategies that mediate and promote learning. Our analysis draws on Bruner’s explanations of ‘scaffolding’ and the active engagement of adults and children to build the ‘learning capital’ children need to engage with conventional forms of writing, both traditional and digital. These interactions are dependent upon relationships of trust and respect and provide levels of social and emotional support deeply connected to thinking and learning. The findings acknowledge the importance of socially mediated interactions and child-adult relationships in guided learning environments. The study contributes to the development of evidenced-based approaches to building educators’ capacity to effectively engage in intentional teaching conversations to improve children’s learning.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes
EventOMEP World Assembly and International Conference (69th : 2017) - Opatija, Croatia
Duration: 19 Jun 201724 Jun 2017


ConferenceOMEP World Assembly and International Conference (69th : 2017)


  • early writing
  • early years pedagogy


Dive into the research topics of 'Exploring adult child conversations to support young writers'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this