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Writing systems are complicated ways to symbolise meaning, and children need to learn many skills and develop a lot of knowledge as they begin to write.  Writing skills and understanding start to develop in babies and toddlers.   Firstly, children begin to understand that written texts are symbolic and carry meaning. Later they begin to produce and read written marks purposefully (See the roots of Writing in Communication and language).

What is often referred to as ‘early mark-making’ is  the beginning of writing.  It is a sensory and physical, and cognitive experience for babies and toddlers, which enables them to see the connection between their actions and the resulting marks, recognising their own agency. (See roots of mark-making and handwriting in Playing and exploring and Physical Development).