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Teach Your Toddler to Write

written by: Keren Perles • edited by: Elizabeth Wistrom • updated: 3/2/2012

You can begin teaching your toddler to write before they even attend school! Read the following tips on getting your child to correctly hold a pencil and begin writing activities.

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    Your child may be ready to learn the basics of "writing" even before formal instruction begins. Consider these tips which address how to teach your toddler to write.

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    Holding a Pencil

    If your child is showing signs of being interested in writing, it may be time to teach her writing and holding a pencil. Before you teach your child to hold a pencil, it is important to make sure that you’re using the right type of pencil. There are special pencils which are thicker than usual, and are perfect for a beginning writer’s rudimentary grasp. You can also use a thick crayon or even a marker. In fact, your child might like this better because she can write in different colors.

    Make sure that your child is holding the pencil correctly. An incorrect grasp is difficult to correct later on, so it is imperative to make sure that you teach the correct grasp from the start. If your child is having difficulty holding the pencil correctly, consider using a rubber grasp-corrector (also referred to as "pencil grips") which slides around a regular pencil. These correctors can show your child how to hold the pencil correctly.

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    Writing Letters

    The most important step to take when teaching your toddler to write is to encourage letter recognition. Point out letters that he knows (such as the first letter of his name) on signs, in the newspaper, or on the back of a cereal box. Also help him to see how other objects are the same shape as some of the letters. For example, a tire swing is shaped like an “o,” and a section of monkey bars is shaped like a capital “H.”

    To teach your child to actually form the letters, you may wish to begin by letting him trace letters. You can create “dotted line letters” by forming the letters using closely spaced dashes. Then you can encourage your child to follow the dotted lines to write the letter “himself.” Make sure to use words he enjoys, such as his first name or the name of a pet, when teaching him how to write his letters.

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    “Writing” for Your Toddler

    More important than teaching your toddler to actually write is imparting to your child a love of the written word. Besides reading to her and reading in front of her, you can impart this love by helping her write her own stories and letters. Tell your child that you are going to write a story with her. Take a large piece of paper and a marker, and write down whatever she tells you. For example, after a trip to the doctor, your story might read, “Dr. Cone heard my heart go thump, thump. She looked in my ears. She looked in my eyes. She gave me a sticker. I was brave.” You can then read this “story” back to your child and watch the delight in her eyes when she realizes that you are reading “her” story. You can try this technique with letters or other thank you notes, as well.

    In short, although teaching a toddler writing and holding a pencil is important, it is even more important to teach your child the importance of writing and communicating their ideas with others.

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    Resources