We are searching data for your request:
Upon completion, a link will appear to access the found materials.
Your child's early attempts at writing certainly won't look much like words and sentences, but his scribbles, lines, and drawings are all helping him get ready to learn his ABCs – and perhaps someday produce the next great American novel.
When it develops
Most children are able to grasp a crayon and shove it around on a piece of paper when they're about 12 or 13 months old. From then until sometime between their second and fifth birthdays, children will gradually get better and better at writing and drawing until they're able to put a few letters down on paper and, eventually, spell their own name.
How it develops
Over the last several months of his first year, your baby's fine motor skills will improve steadily, which will help him get ready to grab a crayon. At 12 or 13 months, some toddlers are already able to scribble; if yours needs a few more weeks, that's fine too.
Most 16-month-olds will have mastered scribbling, no doubt producing a gallery's worth of masterpieces for the refrigerator. After that, your child will gradually start moving on to bigger and better things, including coloring and painting (artistic play) at about 29 or 30 months and being able to draw a vertical line by his third birthday.
By the time he's 3, your child will be able to hold a pencil in writing position. Some preschoolers will be able to make a few letters – or squiggles that look an awful lot like letters – and a few will even figure out how to write their own name before they enter kindergarten, especially if they've been learning the alphabet in daycare or preschool. Many don't, though, and that's okay. Don't feel pressured to make your child learn to write before he's ready; wait until he's really interested and excited about it.
As preschoolers get more adept at using crayons and pencils, they'll start making more elaborate and accurate drawings. Between his second and fifth birthdays, your child will learn to make horizontal lines, to copy a circle and a square, and to draw people. Once he starts elementary school, he'll soon learn to read and write.
As with any of your child's new skills, your job is to provide encouragement and support – and, in this case, supplies. Starting as early as your baby's first birthday, be sure to have crayons and paper or coloring books on hand for when he starts showing an interest in scribbling. (Skip pens and pencils until he's older – they're much sharper than crayons and could hurt your toddler if he fell on them or accidentally poked himself in the face.) Let him practice scribbling as often as he likes, but take breaks if he gets frustrated.
Teach your child to limit his artistic endeavors to the piece of paper in front of him, although no matter how many times you tell him not to, he's bound to find the wallpaper (or the floor, or your brand-new paperback) irresistible. So be prepared to clean up after him a few times; to that end, invest in washable crayons. Try not to let him eat his supplies, although getting a little burnt sienna in his system at some point is practically inevitable – and won't do any lasting harm.
When it comes to writing actual letters, the most important thing you can do is let your child learn at his own pace. "It's all too easy to overdo teaching letters and numbers," says T. Berry Brazelton in his book Touchpoints. "To me, the timing is not as important as the child's own desire to learn. Be sure the idea of learning these things is coming from him. It's so easy to push early learning on a child who is compliant at this age. But it does more harm than good." Preschoolers who are forced to read and write before they're ready can do it and will often seem to have an edge over their kindergarten classmates. But studies have found that they lose that advantage as they get older and realize they can't apply the same memorizing techniques they used for reading and writing to more complex learning.
Finally, be sure to talk to and read to your child as much as possible. The more language he hears, the more his brain will grow and develop, which will benefit all of his communication skills – including writing – in the long run.
When to be concerned
Babies develop skills differently, some more quickly than others, but if your child hasn't started scribbling by the time he's about 15 or 16 months old, bring it up the next time you see his pediatrician. Keep in mind that premature babies may reach this and other milestones later than their peers.