Chapter 4: Early Childhood Writing

While this guide focuses on recognizing letters and words while reading, writing is a great support to learning progressively more difficult words. Your child will find writing their own stories as a great reward for all their diligent practice. Be sure to praise attempts at writing and be patient with your child’s developing fine motor skills.

  • The included writing sheets are recommended for children aged 5 and up
  • For writers aged 0 to 3, use blank paper and give them plenty of room to draw while asking them what their scribbles actually say to build the idea that text has meaning
    • Young children this age should experience finger painting to build fine motor skills and experiment on a new medium
    • When it comes to writing stories, give your child thick crayons. Crayons are great for gripping in small hands. Additionally, thick crayons allow for high levels of pressure—using a thin pencil at this age would result in a lot of snapped tips!
  • For writers aged 3 to 4, try drawing 1” x 1” boxes on the page. Let your child know that this is a space for words and the rest of the space is for pictures. As they grow in hand-eye coordination and letter recognition, make the boxes smaller
    • For writing instruments, children from ages 3 to 4 should still primarily use thick crayons to write and draw when unsupervised. Now is also a good time to introduce thick pencils. Make sure you show your child how to use an eraser effectively!
  • Finally, when they’re forming letters mostly within the lines and can recognize the alphabet, graduate your child to lined paper
  • Drawing pictures should always be encouraged--it’s not just stretching your child’s creative muscles, but also growing their fine motor skills!
  • For children aged 5 and up, present young authors with space to draw pictures and write letters or invented words to express their stories.
    • Durable felt-tip markers can be added to their writing tools. When using markers for the first time, explicitly tell your child that we use markers to practice how much pressure—or how hard—we write. Show them the difference between a light flick and a heavy stroke, as well as how to preserve these markers for longer use!


In Chapter 5, we ask what reading is like in schools today.