From a very young age, your child is likely to see you writing. This will inspire her to want to do the same.
You will see her with crayons and paper trying to make letters or objects that she wants to draw. You will see your child at some stage in the first years of her life will want to write like you do. She is likely to begin with her name. These are the letters that are most familiar to her.
In order for her to learn to write, she must develop her coordination. Anything you can do to help will make learning to write easier. Here are a few things you can do that will help:
• Keep paper, crayons, and pencils around for her to use
• Encourage her to draw
• Display what she draws some place she can see it
• Give her objects to trace
• Let her cut out paper
• Let her mark-up catalogs that arrive in the mail as if they were a “wish” list
Give her fun experiences with a variety of art and writing materials. You will see forward progress as she grows.
One of the most important ways that your toddler is tuning in to her creativity is by experimenting with art materials. As she grabs that chunky crayon and gets to work, you will see her art and writing change and become more controlled and complex as she grows.
This a really fun period of writing growth. The control your child has over the muscles in her hands lets her move a crayon or a marker with a goal in mind.
The changes you will see as she writes and draws are in several stages:
Stage 1: Random Scribbling (15 months-2½ years)
It all looks like scribbling to begin. Remember she is experimenting. She is also enjoying what the crayon smells like, how it feels, and the marks it makes on the page. Not all children enjoy these but most grow to enjoy these end results of scribbling.
Stage 2: Controlled Scribbling (2-3 years)
With increasing control over her hand and finger muscles her scribbling begins to change. She may even begin to make circles, diagonal, curved, and horizontal or vertical lines. You will even begin to see her using the crayon or marker between her thumb and pointer finger.
Stage 3: Lines and Patterns (2½-3½ years)
As a young child she is now beginning to understand that writing is made up of lines, curves and other repeated patterns. She will try to imitate this in her own writing. While you may not actually see letters, you might see parts of them. She may begin to realize that what she is drawing has meaning. She may write something down and then tell you what the word says. This is her beginning reading and writing.
Stage 4: Pictures of Objects or People (3-5 years)
Many adults think of “pictures” as a picture of something. This ability to hold an image in your mind and then draw it on the page is a thinking skill that takes a long time to develop. At first, young children name whatever they have drawn. This is different than drawing something you planned. This means that they finish the picture and then label their masterpiece with names of people, animals, or objects they know. This changes over time.
Stage 5: Letter and Word Practice (3-5 years)
Your child has now been experimenting with letters for several years now and is probably beginning to use letter in her own writing. By now you are probably seeing her use the letters in her name because she is familiar with them. She may even make pretend letters by copying familiar letter shapes.
By this stage, you have a writer. Be excited about her writing. Have her talk with you about what she has written. This is a major accomplishment for your preschool age child. Your encouragement has helped it come about. You are a great first teacher.
Cynthia Martin is the founder of the First Teacher program and former executive director of Parenting Matters Foundation, which publishes newsletters for parents, caregivers and grandparents. To reach First Teacher Executive Director Patty Waite, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 360-681-2250.