Teaching Kids to Write
When you think about reading and writing, you might think about kindergarten or even first-grade tasks. Indeed, most kids learn to read around age six — but research shows that babies and toddlers benefit substantially when they learn to read at an earlier age. Teaching young children to write can help improve their motor skills and prepare them for kindergarten writing tasks. If you’re wondering how to help your toddler approach the reading and writing process, here are some tips to make writing an accessible and enjoyable activity.
What Should a Preschooler Be Able to Write?
It’s tempting to compare your own kid to others and wonder whether their abilities measure up. Every parent wants their kid to meet the milestones associated with their age. For kids who are learning to write, this prompts the question — what should a preschooler be able to write? You shouldn’t expect your child to be at a kindergarten writing level, but there are a few key benchmarks you can use to measure your child’s progress.
As you guide your preschooler through writing, they should develop the ability to write letter-like marks. This process typically starts with mastering the grasp of a writing utensil — in most cases a crayon — and mimicking the letter shapes they see in books. Some other developmental benchmarks in the writing process include:
- Writing their name
- Drawing lines that mimic lines of text
- Writing lists or cards
- Labeling pictures using letter-like marks
These accomplishments are a good indication that your preschooler is well on their way. Mastery of these tasks will prepare kids for kindergarten writing, too. To encourage your kid to meet these measures, you can practice writing letter shapes and show them different introductory writing styles, such as writing a list, a short note, or single sentences.
How Do I Teach My 3-Year-Old to Write?
Teaching your three-year-old to write will require patience and commitment. If you want to encourage your three-year-old’s writing skills, there are a few key strategies you can employ to help them in their journey because learning to write is one of the most valuable skills a three-year-old can acquire.
Three-year-old’s must first develop the physical skills necessary to write. This demands that their hand and arm muscles be developed so that they can master the fine motor skills writing will eventually require. To prepare toddlers for this, you can engage in any of the following activities:
- Start learning letter shapes by making them with Play-Doh
- Trace letters with glue instead of drawing them
- Use tools such as clothespins that help build hand strength
- Put beads on pipe cleaners to practice digital precision
These tasks can help build the physical skills required to begin tracing letters and learning to write.
Of course, motor skills are only part of the equation when kids are learning to write. The writing process also requires cognitive abilities that can also be built when kids are three years old. To start building the cognitive skills required for writing, you should continue reading with your child regularly and practice the phonetic skills that will eventually allow them to master reading and writing.
How Do I Teach My 4-Year-Old to Write?
Preparing kids for kindergarten writing is an important part of their learning process. Kindergarten will introduce kids to the alphabet, words, and sentences — but giving your child a jumpstart on these concepts can massively improve their success in school. So how do you teach your four-year-old to write? You must first recognize each of the components involved in the writing process — the cognitive and physical work that must be done to write. Recognize, too, that this work is difficult to master for a four-year-old who may never have endeavored to write before!
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to writing for kids, but guided tracing is one of the most common methods. In this approach, kids can sit down and carefully trace the letters of the alphabet as they vocalize the sound of the letter they are writing. This reinforces their phonetic foundation, allows them to also practice handwriting, and build fine motor skills.
Of course, not every toddler is ready to jump right into letter tracing. Some kids will need more support and help before starting to trace letters. If this is the case for your kid, you can instead start with the development of arm movements. Many adults focus exclusively on the cognitive faculties required for writing and overlook the motor skills. You can develop these skills by allowing kids to write while lying on the floor or using a vertical surface to draw.
The Casa Connection
Reading and writing are perhaps the most important skills a child will learn in school — so, of course, you want to give your preschooler the advantage of early mastery. If you want to truly unlock your child’s potential, research has shown that bilingual education offers unparalleled opportunities for intellectual growth — and learning multiple languages can help kids master reading and writing faster. Casa de Corazón offers Spanish immersion programs for preschool students throughout Minnesota and Wisconsin. We strive to empower every student with the gift of language through sustainable practices and socially responsible education. For more information, learn about our core values and find a location near you.