When Writing Actually Begins for a Toddler

Every parent looks forward to the day their baby will grow up so they can send them on errands and maybe write little notes to them. There is nothing as tear-jerking as a letter from your eight-year old telling you how awesome you are as a parent! Before you get there though, your child has to learn how to write.


Writing doesn’t begin when they go to school and learn how to neatly write letters and words. It begins in your home when your child can barely talk. Your child will see you writing at one time or another and knowing kids, she’ll want to imitate you. As you go along she will use anything she finds to do what she’s seen you do. It may not even make sense to her but how much makes sense to her at this age anyway? The interest is definitely there though and it is up to you to maintain and even increase it.


Many parents will find doodles on the wall and curse because of all the work that leaves them. Before you get there, teach your toddler to doodle on paper. Buy her a drawing book, many crayons in different and bright colours and let her free. Don’t try to control what she does in there because it won’t work. After all, you’re the one seeing disorder and not her.

Fine motor skills

The doodles will of course be all over the place but that’s because she’s still strengthening her muscles. She is developing her fine motor skills that have so far enabled her to pick up those crayons. As it gets better she will have more control over the crayon, brush or pencil. She might start out holding it with her whole hand at about 18 months and that’s not a crime. The pincer grip you’re looking forward to will come later on when your child is about three years old so you’ll need a little patience.

Now, eager parents will want to teach their kids how to write by the time they get to preschool but that is really unnecessary because as mentioned above, it’s still too early. This doesn’t mean that you stand back and wait. You can only help propel your child in the right direction without necessarily pushing her too far.

Writing words is usually linked to talking so writing words isn’t the best place to start. She will only recognize the words from the shapes related to them and not the letters. With time as she learns to put words together she will be able to connect words and their sounds. She’ll learn the phonics (the sounds that individual and combinations of letters make) once she gets to school. In the meantime, let her doodle away and express herself on that platform.

Don’t listen to your neighbours

There is something about people’s comments, especially when they have a little truth in them. They can really get to you! Imagine someone bragging about how their child can write properly and sing the alphabet at two and a half years and then they ask ‘how come little Amy can’t? Maybe you should see a speech therapist or something.’ You would be forgiven for wanting to punch such a person.

But you know your child best since you’ve been there from day one and you know the milestones they’ve attained this far. Don’t let them make you push your child because honestly, that’s what they’ve done. Toddlers shouldn’t be compared and especially not on academic grounds. Block the naysayers out and let your child enjoy childhood as she learns at her pace.


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