The Preschooler and the Pen – How Early is Too Early to Teach Writing

I was asked a question last week about at what age should writing be introduced.  We’re not talking scribbling or coloring here, we’re talking about writing alphabet letters.

My kids are early readers but late writers, and I’m not a stickler for handwriting.  I don’t start working on writing letters with my little ones until they are about 4.  By the start of their homeschool kindergarten at age 5, they’re doing the standard trace-the-letters worksheets.  I thought I might be a little late, but when I searched on-line for what the experts are recommending, they seem to agree with those ages.

I have to laugh, though, because after I told my friend that my kids don’t show any interest in writing their letters until sometime after their fourth birthday, I discovered my just-turned-3-year-old (Seth) writing several letters on one of the toys he got for Christmas.  He’s been obsessed with it lately and spends literally hours on it every day.  Bella (4) and Noah love these as well – I’m telling ya, we get our value out of our toys! (And no, I’m not being compensated for this endorsement.)  I highly recommend any version of this kind of toy you can get your hands on.  It should have a stylus and red dots on the screen which light up in the shape of the letter, stroke by stroke.  Then your child takes the stylus and traces over the red lights.  Red lights disappear, and the child’s letter remains until they swipe the lever at the bottom of the screen.  I think these sell for about $20-$30 – worth every penny!

These are pictures of the Chicco version and the Leap Frog version – our kids use both.

handwriting toys

Anyway, back to Seth.  So I sit down on the couch next to him when he’s got the game in his hand.  I just happened to notice it was turned off.  Then I noticed Seth was drawing on it – the machine was still turned off, but Seth had just written an R.  (The child can still draw on this even if it’s turned off – the screen is similar to a Magna-Doodle.)  Then he proceeded to write a W, an A, and a couple other letters.  I did notice he had a harder time when I asked him to reproduce those letters on paper with a pen, but he still could do some of them.

This is the kid who at age 2 was running around the house yelling Hallelujah jalapeno while Noah (6 – Down syndrome) was still struggling to say Daddy.



3 thoughts on “The Preschooler and the Pen – How Early is Too Early to Teach Writing”

  1. Hey Alyson, Just wanted to say thank you for all these fine motor/handwriting blog posts you’ve done! Now I don’t have to do the research myself! 🙂 I’ve made fine motor skills a priority with Jake as of late because his little fingers are just so weak. Thanks again for the ideas.

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