This is a little bit of a trick question because in truth, children will begin writing anywhere between 2 to 5 years old so don’t feel rushed to teach your 3 year old how to write. Instead, you can first take a look at other precursors to make sure your child is ready to learn this skill. If not, starting too early can actually have a negative effect on their ability to write.
- 1. Does your child know the alphabet (or characters of the language?)
Before learning to write, your child needs to know the alphabet, such as being able to identify each letter and what they sound like. The easiest way to do this is through repeated exposure, whether that’s through reading, everyday scenarios, or flashcards.
- 2. Is your child aware that words represent sounds and meanings?
Your child must build an awareness of printed words and how they relate to oral and written communication. This can be done very naturally through everyday interactions like reading storybooks together, pointing to words as you read, tracing letters with a finger and so on.
- 3. Do they have the fine motor skills needed?
Can your child scribble with a marker? Can they use scissors? Can they use their pincer grasp to complete different activities? This is extremely important as children need to be able to hold a pencil correctly before learning to write.
- 4. Can your child identify their own written name?
Try to write their name on a sheet of paper along with other names. You can include similar names too. See if your child is able to identify their own name because more often than not, that is the first thing children learn to write.
- 5. Is your child able to copy lines and shapes?
Letters in the alphabet often have curved edges, which can be very difficult for children to write. Before attempting to do so, your child should master copying and drawing different kinds of lines and shapes. Worksheets are great for practicing this. Tip: teach your child to write in capital letters before lowercase letters because capital letters have less curved edges!
Ideally, parents want their children to be writing their name by the time they are 3 years old. However, rushing the process can actually hinder long-term learning. Your child may develop bad writing habits like holding the pencil incorrectly, incorrect stroke formation, or they could feel frustrated and develop a dislike towards writing. Hence, it’s important to ensure that your child is ready before tackling the challenge of writing.