Young children learn about their world largely through hands-on exploration. Writing skills develop along similar lines, with nursery-aged kids applying emerging fine motor skills in a variety of related activities. Help your toddler expand his skills with writing activities that engage his interest in creative play and artistic expression.
Encourage your child when she attempts to express herself in writing. What looks like only scribbles to you may be a grocery list, a restaurant menu or a movie ticket in your child's eyes. Your child begins recognising common symbols around the same time, such as stop signs or the sign of his favourite restaurant, and may even tell you he can "read" it. Celebrate these steps with your child, as they lead to both reading and writing skills in the future. Even just drawing, painting and colouring pictures helps nursery-aged children develop their fine motor skills.
Let your child tell a story orally as you write it down. Staple it together into a book and let your child illustrate each page. If he shows difficulty getting started, provide a story starter or ask him to tell about a special past event in his own life, such as his birthday or last Christmas. As your child begins recognising letters and simple words, encourage him to write some parts of the stories himself. Alternatively, leave blank spaces in the story, letting your child fill in the blanks with drawings. As your child develops his writing skills, advance these activities to simple letter writing and journal entries, even if they consist mainly of a picture with two or three words as a label.
Young children explore almost any activity, provided the tools are available. Keep plenty of potential writing utensils around your home for just this reason. Ideal supplies include, pencils, markers, crayons, paint and chalk. Clay works well for forming letters, shapes and symbols. A dry erase board and markers also provide a new, fun activity for little ones when supervised. Magnetic letters for the fridge and foam ones for the tub let children play with letters and sounds whenever the urge strikes. Consider keeping supplies in a rolling cart, plastic file cabinet or tub that moves easily from room to room.
Other Language Activities
Reading and writing often develop simultaneously in children. As young kids begin to recognise letters and sounds, they use this new information in their writing activities. Encourage children to learn new language skills with plenty of letter play and games. Read books often, asking your child to point out certain letters or words. Pick a letter of the day and look for it together as you and your child run daily errands. Singing songs and reciting nursery rhymes lets your child enjoy many types of language activities. Try writing in pudding, salt or finger paint spread in the bottom of a baking tray for a change of pace. Save formal lessons such as capitalisation and punctuation for older children entering elementary school.