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Supporting Young Children's Writing

Posted by Cara Allen - Parenting

It seems like we pay a lot of attention to encouraging children to read, but what about writing?  Supporting children's writing begins early, even with children who are one year old.  Ideas to encourage those toddlers:
  • Provide non-toxic writing, painting and drawing materials
  • Talk to children as they make marks, describing what you see.  For example:  "You drew a red line on the white paper!
  • Model how to use writing and drawing materials so children can learn what to do with the materials
  • Encourage all attempts at making marks and drawing.  (Okay, maybe not those on the walls, but you know what I mean.)
For two year olds, adults should continue with the suggestions above.  In addition, pre-writing skills can be encouraged by:
  • Ask children about what they are drawing. Don't try to guess yourself as this could lead to embarrassment.  "What a nice elephant you drew."  "No, Mommy, that's a picture of you."
  • Provide opportunities daily for drawing and writing.  (Remember, scribbling is a child's writing.)
  • Offer to display a child's efforts, and offer to caption their work.

As a person taking care of a child, you are the most important ingredient in a child's learning to write.  They will follow your lead, so you need to demonstrate drawing and writing and that you are enjoying it.  Show your interest by talking, talking, talking to a child about what they are doing.

Information excerpted from Penn State Extension Better Kid Care's "Ways to support young children's writing"  For more information, visit

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