Teaching Toddler to write

Toddlers Write

As parents, we all want to help our little ones learn and develop the important skills they will need in their lives, such as reading and writing. Even though we know that they develop with time and efforts, we don’t know when to begin teaching them those skills, what is the right age, and how to teach them. With the guidance of Dr. Clara Guru, we are here to help you understand how to help our toddlers develop the skill of writing early on. 

When Do Children Learn to Write?

Even though we feel that children do develop the skill of writing in preschool years, research shows children actually start to learn writing skills as early as age three. Even before they understand what words mean, young children recognize patterns in words, such as how long a word is and which letters go together.  children learn to absorb the basic rules of reading and writing at a younger age.

Children typically begin to learn to write between the ages of three and six, although the exact age can vary depending on individual development and exposure to writing activities. Here’s a general timeline of writing development milestones:


    1. Pre-Writing Skills (Ages 1-3)


        • Scribbling: Toddlers start by making random marks on paper using crayons, markers, or pencils. These scribbles may not resemble anything but is an essential step before writing.

        • Controlled Grasping: Children develop the ability to hold writing tools like crayon, pencil, marker, etc. with a more controlled grasp, transitioning from a fist grip to a tripod grasp (using thumb, index, and middle fingers).

        • Controlled Scribbling: Drawing lines, and patterns by mimicking certain features.

    1. Pictures and Tracing letters (Ages 2-4):


        • Letter Recognition: Children begin to recognize and identify letters in the alphabet, especially those in their own name.

        • Writing Direction: They may start to understand that writing goes from left to right and top to bottom, mimicking these direction in their own scribbles.

        • Letter-like Forms: Scribbles may start to resemble letter-like shapes or simple drawings that represent objects.

        • Copying Letters: Children can copy letters and simple shapes, demonstrating more intentional control over their writing.

    1. Letter Formation (Ages 4-5):


        • Writing Their Name: Many children can write their own name or attempt to do so with varying degrees of accuracy.

        • Basic Writing Skills: They begin to understand that writing represents spoken language and can communicate simple ideas through written symbols.

    1. Early Writing (Ages 5-6):


        • Letter Formation: Children refine their ability to form letters more accurately and consistently, often focusing on uppercase letters initially.

        • Writing Words and Sentences: They progress from writing individual letters to forming words and simple sentences, often with invented spelling.

        • Fine Motor Control: Fine motor skills continue to develop, enabling children to write with greater precision and fluidity.

Reference from How to Teach Your Toddler to Write

What role does the brain play?

  • Fine Motor Skills

The process of learning to write involves complex coordination between the brain and muscles. Toddlers are refining their fine motor skills, which involve the coordination of small muscle movements. The brain regions responsible for fine motor control, such as the primary motor cortex and the supplementary motor area, are actively engaged during writing activities.

  • Broca’s Area

Language acquisition and writing skills are closely linked. As toddlers learn to write, they are simultaneously engaging language centers in the brain, such as Broca’s area, which is responsible for speech production and language processing. Writing helps strengthen connections between spoken and written language, helping in overall language development.

  • Neuroplasticity

Toddlers’ brains are highly plastic, meaning they are incredibly adaptable and responsive to environmental stimuli. Through playful writing activities, toddlers are not only developing specific writing skills but also developing new neural pathways and reinforcing existing ones.

Reference from Statistical Learning and Spelling: Older Prephonological Spellers Produce More Wordlike Spellings Than Younger Prephonological Spellers

Physical functions involved in writing

  • Hand-Eye Coordination

Writing activities require precise hand-eye coordination. Toddlers need to visually track their writing plan while coordinating their hand movements to produce desired shapes and letters. Practicing writing helps strengthen this coordination, which is crucial for various daily tasks.

  • Muscle Development

Holding a writing tool and forming letters requires the use of various muscles in the hand, wrist, and arm. These repetitive motions help develop muscle strength and endurance, contributing to overall physical development.

how to develop writing skills?

Helping our toddlers learn to write is not just about mastering the alphabet; it’s about fostering their creativity, building fine motor skills, and laying the foundation for a lifetime of literacy.

  • Start with Scribbles

Firstly, let’s start with encouraging our little ones to scribble freely. Provide them with crayons, markers, or chalk and let them explore different textures and surfaces. Scribbling is their way of experimenting with writing tools and developing hand-eye coordination. This helps them develop enjoyment in the art of writing.

  • Practice Fine Motor Skills

Toddlers need to develop the fine motor skills and palm strength required for controlled movements before they can write letters. Activities like tearing paper, stringing beads, or playing with playdough can help strengthen their hand muscles. Puzzles, stacking blocks, and using tweezers to pick up small objects are also great for building dexterity.

  • Introduce the Alphabet

Once they’ve shown interest in scribbling, you can begin introducing the alphabet. Keep it fun and interactive by singing the ABC song, pointing out letters in books, or using alphabet blocks or magnets. Make letter learning a part of your daily routine, but don’t pressure on them to memorize or write them perfectly just yet. Learning should always be fun and engaging.

  • Finger Painting and Tracing

Finger painting is an amazing way to introduce writing in a tactile and sensory-rich way. Let your toddler experiment with finger paints and encourage them to make marks on paper. You can also try tracing letters in a tray of sand or flour, allowing them to feel the shapes with their fingers.

  • Guided Writing Activities

As your toddler becomes more comfortable with holding writing tools, introduce guided writing activities. Provide them with large, easy-to-grip crayons or pencils and guide their hand as they make simple strokes and shapes. Start with straight lines, curves, and simple shapes like circles before introducing them to letters.

  • Tracing Letters that You Wrote

Write a few easy letters on a piece of paper with a bold marker of any light color. Write them in large size so that it is easier for your baby to trace them. Now ask your baby to choose any color, pencil, marker, or crayon and ask him to trace the letters that you wrote. Demonstrate this activity to your toddler first and guide them accordingly.

  • Always Praise your baby

Always praise and clap for your child when he scribbles or tries to write something. Toddlers are always motivated to repeat the same behaviour when they get praise and happy, excited faces in return.

Reference from How to Teach Your Toddler to Write

Final thoughts by Dr. Clara Guru

Teaching toddlers to write is a gradual but amazing process that requires patience, creativity, and lots of encouragement. Remember to make it fun, and not a boring and mandatory learning activity for toddlers. Dr. Clara Guru, our child development expert says that it is important to create a fun, learning, and supportive environment for your toddler to help them slowly and efficiently develop the skill of writing. Help your child develop a love for writing that will last a lifetime. Embrace their creativity, celebrate their progress, and enjoy the journey together!

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    1. When do toddlers learn to write?

    1. What role does my baby’s brain play in writing?

    1. what are the physical functions involved in writing?

    1. How can I develop writing skills in my toddler?

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