The basic question posed by The Literacy Writing Connection is how is the writing of compositions, essays, short stories et cetera connected to the various forms of literacy for a child? Is any one form of literacy enough to get the job done?
Essentially no. Since there are a number of forms of literacy, no one form can do all that is needed. However, the exciting aspect is that the written works of a child are a key indicator as to his or her literary skills. By writing a short story, a child is exercising many different skills. For my purpose, the term 'writing' will be associated with today's society, thereby involving computers as well as paper and pencil.
Of the many literacy forms including, but not limited to, Media, Global, Multi-cultural, Scientific... the ones that stand out with respect to children are Functional, Information, Mathematical and Computer.
Functional is the easiest to understand. Can the child use basic reading and writing skills to get crucial ideas across or to interpret incoming ideas in order to stay safe. By crucial we can focus on the essentials of life and expand from there. Can they communicate verbally and on paper?
Information refers to the child's ability to understand that he or she requires additional knowledge on a subject and to go and get it. Once retrieved, can the child process and evaluate that knowledge? And finally, can the child apply the new knowledge effectively to solve a problem or otherwise? Let's call this the ability to research.
Mathematical is straightforward enough and does not involve higher math skills. This points to a child's understanding of the most basic mathematical symbols and operations. You might say it also helps with drawing comparisons, such as 'he has more than I do' or 'this is darker than that'. It can assist with spatial awareness as well, but we'll leave that alone for now.
Finally, Computer Literacy. This is, in its simplest form, the ability of the child to turn on the computer, run a wordprocessor, type a story, print it and save it for later. You would be surprised how many adults can't do this. Let's call it keyboarding.
If a child can produce a short story that involves any opinions, knowledge he or she did not possess before, regard for what could be considered adequate flow, balance or word volume, and get it across in a clear way; you have achieved a great victory. The child has communicated, researched, made comparisons and keyboarded to produce a meaningful story.
Focusing your attention on keeping these four forms of literacy (or parallel terminology) in good balance will build a solid foundation for learning the many complex subjects to come in their future. Try to imagine where the child would be if any one of the four forms was way out of balance. You may actually find you can apply whimsical names to each type of child.