Helping Young Children Learn to Write

Girl writing

Children’s writing actually starts with their earliest scribbles. By giving infants and toddlers chances to draw with crayons, child care providers are encouraging them to practice the skills that they will need for later writing. With time and practice, children gradually learn to control the scribbles to make lines, circles and eventually some simple letters. These letters are often upside down or backwards, which is normal for young children. After a while, preschoolers may start to put these letters together to form words, such as their name. With even more time and practice, children will be able to spell the words correctly and put words together to form sentences.

Strategies to Encourage Writing in Early Childhood

Here are some ways child care providers help children learn to write:

  • Let children draw. Encourage their early scribbles.
  • Set up a writing center for preschoolers. Have crayons and pencils on hand. Provide paper to write on.
  • Help children write alphabet letters when they start showing interest in writing.
  • Teach children that writing is meaningful. Encourage them to write their names on the top of their papers. Help them write notes to their families.
  • Be sure children see you writing. Explain what you are writing and why it is important.
  • Ask them to say words out loud as they write.
  • Try collaborative book-writing. Encourage children to draw pictures, and you can write down the stories they tell about the pictures.
  • Plan times for older children to write every day. Make the writing meaningful, and let them choose what they write about sometimes.

For More Information

To learn more about reading and literacy in child care, take a look at the following eXtension Alliance for Better Child Care articles: