Supporting Your Child's Writing Milestones
From the moment they grab your finger for the first time, babies begin using their tiny hands to practice grasping.
As they grow and start to hold new objects, their grasp gets strong enough for them to begin writing around 15 months.
Through the use of different writing utensils, children begin drawing and writing as they develop the muscles in between their little hands.
Between 15 months to 3 years old, each child goes through four stages of writing development.
- Stage One - Scribbling - 15 months to 2 ½ years: These scribbles will be random and the result of your toddler making very large strokes back and forth with their crayon.
- Stage Two - Controlled Scribbling - 2 years to 3 years: As the muscles in your child’s hands develop, they’ll begin to have more control over their hand movements. Making their scribbles more concise with consistent lines, circles, and curves. This is also the period when children begin holding writing utensils in between their thumb and pointer finger, as opposed to in the middle of their fist.
- Stage Three - Lines and Shapes - 2 ½ years to 3½ years: By this age, your child will have more of an understanding of what letters look like and that they are made up of a pattern of lines and curves. Although they may not write actual letters or words yet, their work will resemble characteristics of letters.
- Stage Four - Letter and Words - 3 to 5 years: Now that your child has had a few years of practice, they’re grip and wrist movements are stronger. And their letters and words will become even more defined as they repeat writing them, especially the letters in their own names. It’s during this period that children become more excited about writing because it now conveys meaning to themselves and others.
Like most parents… you may be wondering if there are specific activities you can do to support your child’s development at home.
When it comes to milestones, it’s important to remember that every child develops at their own pace.
During each stage, there's progress to celebrate and several tools and writing materials you can use to help develop your child’s writing skills over time.
Many education experts look to implement the Montessori approach to support writing and reading development. This method was developed by Dr. Maria Montessori in 1906 and has been implemented in hundreds of schools since.
This approach focuses on hand coordination, spoken language, and the use of specific tools and activities to help children naturally develop their writing.
Since most children aren’t introduced to these methods until they’re in school, there are some things you can do now to help prepare your little one between ages 0-5.
1) Introduce writing utensils early - Once your baby can walk, introduce large soft crayons for them to draw on paper. A black crayon on a large white paper is best, so that each mark they make stands out.
2) Create a standing workspace - Around 18 months create a space for your little one to draw on while standing up, such as an easel. This will help them develop control of their back and arm muscles and will also improve the use of fine motor skills in their hands. The Busy Baby Toddler Mat sticks to windows so this could be another way to accomplish the standing method.
3) Explore colors & hand coordination through painting - By two years of age, your child can begin exploring different color crayons. Painting on an easel or larger piece of paper will help them learn more colors quickly. The use of a large thick brush will also develop hand coordination.
4) Use chalkboards to create and erase- Chalkboards allow children to create and erase, allowing them to explore letters and shapes more fluidly. While chalkboards are one of the most effective tools used in the Montessori approach, it’s important that you don’t try to erase any of your child’s writing while they’re in action. Instead, give them the space to write and draw and correct themselves by erasing and creating different shapes and letters. If you don’t have a chalkboard handy, other surfaces such as white board or Busy Baby Mat can be used for your kiddo to explore writing and wiping away the different words they create.
Our Busy Baby Toddler Mat is specifically designed to help your child with all 4 of these methods. The addition of the reusable tracing sheet makes it possible for littles to practice tracing shapes, letters, and numbers over and over again on both flat and vertical surfaces. The Toddler Mat will be open for pre-orders in September with October delivery.
No matter the activity you choose, experts suggest keeping it fun. Children learn best through play and exploration, which is what we’re all about!
Are you using your Busy Baby mat to help your little one explore their writing skills? If so, tag us on Instagram, we want to see them in action!