For very young children, scribbling and early writing skills are the same thing. Encouraging your children to draw or scribble at a very early age will help them develop the skills needed to learn how to write and read! It is never too early or late to start. Here are some stages to look for in your child’s artwork.
Keep in mind, all children develop at different paces and that is perfectly fine. The timetables below are approximate.
Stage 1: Random Scribbling (15 months to 2 ½ years)
Scribbles are usually the result of large movements from shoulder and the writing utensil is held in the child’s fist. The focus is not on the marks or creations, but instead on the sensory experiences like the way the crayon feels or the smell of the marker.
Stage 2: Controlled Scribbling (2 years to 3 years)
Now the scribbles are becoming more controlled as the small muscles in the hand are developed. Toddlers start to make repeated marks on the page, like open circles and lines. You might also see your child start to hold the crayon or marker between their thumb and pointer finger.
Stage 3: Lines and Patterns (2 ½ years to 3 ½ years)
Children are now starting to realize that writing is made up of lines, curves and repeated patterns. (A way to help them notice this is by pointing out words as you read with your little one.) You may start seeing this in your child’s art. They may write something down and then tell you what the word says.
Stage 4: Pictures of Objects and People (3 years to 5 years)
At this stage, you may start to recognize what your child is drawing! Your child will clearly plan out what they are going to create. This means your child understands that lines on paper can be a symbol for something else. This will be a tremendous help when they start school!
And later… Stage 5: Letter and Word Practice (3 to 5 years)
At this last stage, children will start experimenting with letters. They may also make “pretend letters.” You may also see your child start to create patterns that look like words or sentences. This exciting milestone means that your child is beginning to understand that text and print have meaning!
For more details about the stages, and ideas to encourage art and writing skills, check out the Zero to Three web site.