• Iris Windsor

Learning to Write

Updated: Dec 3, 2018

At Dragonfly's Early Learning, we have a vested interest in the education of our little Dragonflies. We start at a very early age, giving children the tools and opportunity to encourage the development of writing skills.

Your child's early attempts at writing certainly won't look much like words and sentences, but the scribbles, lines, and drawings are all helping to get ready to learn the ABCs.

A young boy writes on the chalk board

Many children are able to grasp a crayon and push it around on a piece of paper when they're about 12 or 13 months old. Their writing and drawing skills improve in tiny incremental steps throughout the toddler years until they're able to draw recognizable pictures and, eventually, put a few letters down on paper.

Toddler's Progress in Writing and Drawing Skills Over Time

12 to 18 months Over the last several months of the first year, your child's fine motor skills will improve steadily. They are now physically ready to take hold of a crayon and start experimenting. At 12 or 13 months, some toddlers are already able to scribble vigorously, while others start tentatively (they'll drag a crayon around on paper, scrawling inadvertently). If yours takes longer, that's fine, also Children develop at different rates, some faster than others. By around 16 months, your little one will probably be a scribbling pro, creating a gallery's worth of drawings all of which are expected to make an appearance on the refrigerator.

19 to 25 months Your toddler's scribbles will start taking discernible shape now, though it doesn't yet form letters or numbers — their motor skills are not developed enough to hold a writing implement steadily enough to be able to control it. They will have become enthralled by anything they can draw with — crayons, pens, and coloured pencils.

Beware, this is prime time for crayon scribbles on the wall or texta art work on the leather couch!!!

They will probably starting to spend longer on each individual drawing now, covering more of the paper rather than making a single swirl. If you draw a single line and they can easily imitate it, though it may not be very straight.

26 to 30 months At about 29 or 30 months, kids move from mere scribbles to true art. They're more interested in colouring and painting, and they start adding colours and trying to represent real objects. A drawing may look to you like a solid mass of green paint, but ask your child and they'll tell you exactly what it is...sometimes it is not always flattering.

They may also start attempting to incorporate language into their drawings. Look closely at a painting and you may see that the larger scribbles are figures, while the chicken scratches are attempts at letters or words. They may also start signing their pictures, though the letters won't look like any alphabet that you recognize.

31 to 36 months By the time they are 2 1/2, your child will be able to hold a thick pencil or crayon solidly in a writing position. Children of this age are usually able to master the up-and-down movement required to make a "V," which is a little trickier and requires more dexterity than making a straight line.

Between now and the third birthday your toddler will also start making circular strokes, and some will be able to write a few letters — or squiggles that look an awful lot like letters. A few will start writing their first name — or a few letters of it — around or just past their third birthday. Many don't, though, and that's okay.

Don't feel pressured to push your child to learn to write. Wait until they are really interested and excited about it. Writing is a developmental skill that does not have a formal timetable, so toddlers can take their time and still be developmentally on track.

What's Next? As preschoolers get more adept at using crayons and pencils, they'll start making more elaborate and accurate drawings. Most will be able to write their first name before they enter kindergarten, especially if they've been learning the alphabet in daycare or preschool. Sometime before their fifth birthday, your child will learn to make horizontal lines, to copy a circle and a square, and to draw people (they'll probably start with stick figures and add on curves as they get better at it).

To learn more about Dragonfly's Early Learning, please visit www.dragonflys.com.au/why-us or if you would like to discuss your childcare needs, please call us on 07 5471 6500.

We would love to hear from you!


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