I am a big proponent of parents interacting and playing with their children. This is the secret of how I taught my son to write at two-years-old.
The method, In-depth learning, is what I used to teach him how to read and write.
Before I give you the details, let’s answer some basic questions first.
How do I encourage my child to write?
One good way to encourage your child to write is to make it fun and purposeful for kids. Build a writing activity around your child’s interest. For example, if your child likes cars then have them construct letters in sand or mud with their toy vehicles. You can also create a road with tape in the form of letters. Then have your child follow the path with the cars. If you have a child that likes dolls or stuffed animals, then help them do a role play as a teacher teaching their dolls how to write.
Below are 5 more ways to encourage kids to write…
- Get a pen pal for your child to write to frequently.
- Help the child write a story about a topic of their choice.
- Have the child write with their favorite toy (explained above).
- Encourage the child to write with their fingers through finger paint or making letters in sand.
- Writing well wishes to family members…
- Creating and drawing Birthday, Christmas, or Get Well Cards to Family and Friends.
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How do I teach my child to write his name?
My son learned to write his name at the age of two. He first learned by seeing me write his name repeatedly during long car rides, church services, outside with sidewalk chalk and at the bottom of his art projects. He loved to trace his name with crayons after I wrote it. After seeing it done multiple times, I let him independently write the first letter of his name, then the second letter and so on.
When should a child start writing?
Children first learn to write once they have the strength to hold a crayon and scribble which is around 15 months. According to Zerotothree.org there are five stages of writing. The first stage, at 15 months – 2.5 years old, is when the child is doing random scribbling. Controlled scribbling is the second stage at 2 to 3 years old, when the child makes circles and vertical, curved, and horizontal lines. The third stage is lines and patterns, at 2.5 to 3.5 years old. Drawing pictures of objects or people is the fourth stage. In the fifth stage, children are using letters and numbers to write on their own.
My son’s brain starting processing the concept of writing around 13 months when he repeatedly observed me writing the alphabet and numbers. He was not able to physically write yet, but his brain recorded the loops, lines, and curves I made when I wrote. He wrote his first letter, A, at 21 months.
So, how did you teach your son to write at two-years- old?
There were many forms of playful methods used to teach my son to write. We still use some of the same methods and more to improve this writing skills. Below is what we did.
Play-Doh is a favorite toy in our household. I used it to mold the alphabet before my son could talk. Constantly observing how letters are formed trained his brain to understand how they are MADE. Once he started talking, he would identify a letter and it was my job to make the letters. He gained a taste of leadership because he had control of what letter I wrote. Eventually, he combined the two skills and was able to identify the letter and shape them simultaneously with Play-Doh.
Form letters with various toys and objects
Play-Doh needed its own category because we used it frequently. However, we formed letters and numbers with other toys. We collected rocks and used them to shape letters and numbers in order. Legos and Magnetic Tiles were used to build the alphabet and create silly stories. The numbers we constructed using Gears were created by widgets, connectors and interlocking bases and were accessorized by the colorful gears and crank. We formed letters and numbers with poms and made them disappear by blowing on them.
Writing in different settings
In order to keep my son’s attention during road trips, church services or appointments, I would write letters and familiar words like his name and favorite animals. I also drew various shapes so eventually he would connect them to the construction of letters and numbers. For example, the letter A is part triangle with a line in the middle and O is an oval.
He observed me writing with various colors on the doodle pad, outside with sidewalk chalk, on the window with window markers, on notebook paper, on craft paper taped to the wall and floor. While I was writing, he would scribble and make abstract art. Then one day, he wrote the letter A!
Observing the alphabet and letters in nature and the outside world
There are many objects in our world that have similar shapes to letters and numbers. One time we walked outside and saw three small sticks that were shaped like the letter P. The poles holding the swing set up at the playground looks like the letter A. The legs of a portable table in our home is shaped like a X. The ability to identify letters and numbers in nature gives the brain a plan of action needed to form them.
How do you teach a child to hold a pencil correctly?
My daycare provider helped me with this tremendously. She had my son write and draw with broken crayons because it encourages the correct grasp. After she told me this, I researched and found this article on why this is true. Mama OT says this naturally encourages them to “pinch” the crayon between their thumb and index finger, moving them into a more mature and skilled grasp pattern. The reason is simple — it’s hard to use a cylindrical or digital pronate grasp on a short crayon.
Broken crayons encourages children to pinch it between their thumb and index finger. As a result, he now holds the writing utensil correctly.
Another method is to use the alligator trick. Tell your child to hold their dominant hand like an alligator’s mouth. Have the child open and close the alligator’s mouth like they want to eat something. Then help the child hold the pencil like their hand or alligator mouth is closed on the pencil. The last step is to have your child bend their fingers a bit to grab the pencil.
Put it all together
My son was able to write independently at two-years-old. He loves writing his own thank you notes and birthday cards to family and friends. We are still improving his writing skills through play and fun activities. We have found that opportunities to write are endless and with this fun journey we will continue to move forward.
Our books are available on Amazon, “Teach Your Toddler to Read Through Play,” “Fun Easy Ways to Teach Your Toddler to Write, and “Teach Your Child About Money Through Play.“