Treiman, Rebecca & Decker, Kristina & Kessler, Brett & Pollo, Tatiana Cury. 2015. Variation and repetition in the spelling of young children. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology 132. 99–110. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jecp.2014.12.008
A number of investigators have suggested that young children, even those do not yet represent the phonological forms of words in their spellings, tend to use different strings of letters for different words. However, empirical evidence that children possess a concept of between-word variation has been weak. In a study by Pollo, Kessler, and Treiman (2009), in fact, prephonological spellers were more likely to write different words in the same way than would be expected on the basis of chance, not less likely. In the present study, preschool-age prephonological and phonological spellers showed a tendency to repeat spellings and parts of spellings that they had recently used. However, even prephonological spellers (mean age 4 years, 8 months) showed more repetition when spelling the same word twice in succession than when spelling different words. The results suggest that children who have not yet learned to use writing to represent the sounds of speech show some knowledge that writing represents words and should thus vary to show differences between them. The results further suggest that in spelling, as in other domains, children have a tendency to repeat recent behaviors.
Treiman, R., Decker, K., Kessler, B., & Pollo, T. C. (2015). Variation and repetition in the spelling of young children. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 132, 99–110. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jecp.2014.12.008