Developmental Writing Skills and Milestones by Age

The physical ability to hold a pencil and write words develops slowly in a child. Advancing from scribbles to a bestseller takes time.

Here is a look at the major milestones involved.

At age 12 to 13 months many toddlers can hold a crayon and make marks on a sheet of paper. Early attempts at this age are usually just lines on a page, not recognizable to others, even doting parents, as words or pictures.

By 18 months, a toddler is developing her fine motor skills at a slow but steady pace. Physically, she has no trouble grasping a crayon for short periods. This may or may not result in her drawing something you can figure out. Each child develops at her own pace.

At 19 months and up to 24 months, she will be fascinated by her ability to make marks on the page. She still has trouble holding a crayon, pen or pencil for an extended period and she’s not totally steady, but she will love making her mark. This is the point where she will decide that a nice empty wall is just waiting for her artistic efforts.

From 26 to 30 months, she will be adding colors, trying to put down on paper the things she sees around her. She will be drawing the tree in the garden, though to you it might look like a picture of an elephant.

From 31 to 36 months, your child will have a firm grasp of her drawing instrument. She will probably be able to make the letter V, a tricky letter when you’re first starting out. At this point she might be able to learn to write her first name, or at least make an attempt. But this varies greatly from child to child.

At age four and five, your child will begin to learn her letters in preschool, be able to make circles and squares and draw stick figures. By age six, she will be learning to write her first and last name, the alphabet and numbers.

Keep in mind that this is a general guide; each child develops on her own schedule. Somewhat slower or faster than this is entirely normal. However, if you notice that your child is well outside this guide in terms of his or her development writing skills and milestones by age, then be sure to seek help from a pediatric occupational therapist.

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