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The Importance of Mark-Making in Early Years

Updated: Mar 22, 2023

What is mark-making in the Early Years?

Mark-making refers to the improvised scribbles that children make early on. Almost instinctively, young children become adept at making marks without any instruction. Early mark-making involves children intentionally creating lines, patterns, and shapes with their bodies or tools. It is a developmental milestone for babies and toddlers, as it marks the first step toward writing and drawing.

Mark-making can take many forms and use a wide range of materials. Drawing on paper with a crayon, making patterns in sand with a stick or painting shapes with their fingers are all examples. As such mark-making can often have links to sensory stimulation and imaginary play.

Wedge double-sided whiteboards are an ideal resource for children to explore a different medium of mark-making. Young children relish in the sensory and physical experience of making marks, enjoying the sensation of marker pens gliding across a whiteboard. This helps to enhance a child’s critical thinking, brain, and language development, giving them the ability to build toward more complex learning tasks in the future.

Why is mark-making so important in the early years?

In the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS), mark-making plays a crucial role in several prime and specific learning areas, including:

Literacy

Writing comes naturally to adults, but for children, it requires time, practice, and encouragement to become proficient. Writing begins with making marks. When children create circles and lines on paper, it may appear they are merely scribbling, but they are mark-making, the first step towards writing.

Unleashing Creativity

Besides teaching a child how to write, making marks can benefit them physically, as well as develop their imaginations and creativity.  The art of mark-making allows children to express their feelings and thoughts in a completely new way, removing the need to solely rely on verbal communication for expression. Mark making may serve as a means of sharing thoughts and feelings, offering insight into what they represent as they draw, or even sharing stories. Marks can reveal information about a child's feelings or thoughts.



EYFS pupil practising mark making and drawing in Gloucestershire using a red Wedge Jotter desk and lap board
EYFS pupil practising their creative drawing on an A4 Wedge Jotter Whiteboard.

Mathematics

Creating marks is also essential to making sense of numerals and shapes, which is crucial to understanding many mathematic concepts. The first step in recording amounts and quantities may be for children to make tally charts or dots.

Development of Gross & Fine Motor Skills

Mark-making is a fundamental part of young children’s physical development. A child's gross and fine motor skills are key to him or her mastering legible, fluent handwriting. To write correctly, muscles in the trunk, neck, and shoulders must be controlled to provide the stability required. Fine motor skills will then be developed from these gross motor skills.

Holding a pen and controlling it with precision takes a lot of skill and involves hand-eye coordination and muscle control in our hands and fingers. Making marks allows children to develop their hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills by practicing holding a pen, deciding what grip suits them best, which hand feels most natural, and through making small, controlled movements using the pen.

Our Wedge Jotter Dry-Erase Whiteboards are ideal for pre-schoolers to experiment with mark-making and drawing; they can be used either as a lapboard or on the table-top and feature a magnetic & dry-wipe writing area which is 15% larger than an A4 sheet, suitable for left and right-handed users. When raising the board using the legs either in a portrait or landscape position, a sloped writing surface is created, which helps children to develop their fine and gross motor skills.


There is no doubt that mark-making has benefits, it allows children to use their imaginations, express their feelings & personalities, develop their creativity, and take their first step toward writing. It’s an important time for children to develop several skills and with the right resources, support and encouragement, their abilities will inevitably grow.

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