At What Age Should Your Child Be Able to Write the Alphabet?

by Maggie McCormick

    Many children begin to show an interest in "writing" from the age of two, but the ability to actually form letters -- and put those letters into words -- generally comes quite a bit later. Once children understand that written letters have meaning, they'll start to show more interest in writing them. Writing effectively also requires fine motor skills that children develop on their own time. Still, you should expect your child to start writing with meaning around age four.

    Pencil Control

    Good writing requires pencil control, which some children gain earlier than others. When they are between 2- and 3-years old, children often start to hold the pencil correctly and start writing "controlled scribbles," according to the Zero to Three website, though parents will probably have to correct their grip from time to time. Activities such as transferring small objects from one container to another using a spoon or tongs help build these fine motor skills if you feel your child needs practice.

    Child's Name

    The first thing a child is likely to be interested in writing is her own name, so that's a good place to start. Around age four, children are usually able to read and write their own name, according to KidsHealth. If your 3- or 4-year-old is interested, teach her by writing her name and having her trace over your letters. Eventually, she'll be able to copy them on her own underneath, then write without any sort of visual aid.

    Letter and Word Writing

    After learning to write his name, your child will start to develop interest in other letters. This usually happens between the ages of three to five, according to Zero to Three. If your child is attending a preschool or kindergarten, he'll probably start to learn writing there. Otherwise, you can work on it at home. The National Association for the Education of Young Children suggests providing several different medium for your child to practice writing in. For example, you might provide finger paints, sand, flour, crayons and pencils.

    Dysgraphia

    If your child is five and still doesn't seem to be grasping the concept of letter writing, she may have a condition called dysgraphia. According to the National Center for Learning Disorders, this is a processing order that makes it difficult for a person to write. Early signs of this include a tight pencil grip, refusing to work on writing activities and trouble forming letters. If you're concerned, mention this to her teacher or a pediatrician to have your child referred for further testing.

    About the Author

    Maggie McCormick is a freelance writer. She lived in Japan for three years teaching preschool to young children and currently lives in Honolulu with her family. She received a B.A. in women's studies from Wellesley College.

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