24 Fun Ways To Teach Your Toddler To Write Better

✔ Research-backed

Do you wonder how to teach a toddler to write? Many parents want their children to learn writing when their little one begins to hold objects with their fingers. However, the right time to learn writing skills may depend on many factors, such as how easily they can hold a crayon or pencil, their interest in letters, enthusiasm, and more.

Toddlers may also show specific interest in capital letters or small letters. Not all toddlers achieve milestones simultaneously. Also, penmanship skills require a lot of patience. You may wait until your toddler shows signs of interest rather than forcing them to learn.

Read on to know some interesting ways to teach your toddler to write numbers and letters and how to make them enthusiastic about learning writing.

In This Article

Interesting Ways To Teach Your Toddler To Write

Your toddler or preschooler may be an enthusiastic artist, wanting to draw random figures everywhere. But to teach him to write will involve more than just stick figure art and random shapes. Here, we give you tips to help him master the task.

  1. Do not rush to the alphabet or number. Create simple lines and shapes and ask him to copy them.
  1. Toddlers can either use their fingers or small sticks to trace in oatmeal, sand, pudding, shaving cream, rice, etc.
  1. You can encourage your toddler to write on dry erase boards, Magnadoodle, or chalkboards. This way he can re-write several times at the same place.
  1. Allow your toddler time to move at his pace and learn through the process.
  1. When you feel your toddler is ready for papers and pencils, show them encouragement to draw shapes and lines before proceeding to letters.
protip_icon Point to consider
Every child is different and unique. Encourage your child to write only if they are comfortable. They should enjoy the process.
  1. You can make it interesting using letter tiles, fridge magnets, and alphabet blocks.
  1. To make writing on paper interesting, add colors by providing crayons and sketches. If you are afraid that your tot may spoil the walls, get washable colors. You may use “jumbo” sized crayons for easy gripping to help teach toddlers to learn how to hold the crayon.
  1. Make sure that the activity is fun and relaxed. He need not achieve perfection when he has just begun to write.

How To Teach Your Toddler To Write The Alphabet

How to teach toddlers to write the alphabet

Image: Shutterstock

At that young age, writing the alphabet could be rocket science if there is no guidance. Toddlers are at a learning age and have the enthusiasm to pick everything they see. Getting them to write the alphabet shouldn’t be tough, but start with the uppercase letters and then migrate to lowercase, just to prevent confusions among ‘p’, ‘q’, ‘t’, ‘l’, ‘i’, etc.

  1. Explain shapes through various objects like balls, the moon, coils, ice cream sticks, etc.
  1. Encourage them to trace by writing a letter between two broad lines.
  1. Put dots in the form of a letter and ask him to join them.
  1. Write a letter while he is watching and help him trace it by holding his hand.
  1. Make them draw on big sheets and help them remember by speaking the structure out loud. For example: For ‘Z’, you could teach your little one, “A small line across, a big line diagonal, and a small line across”. This would make it fun for them to remember.

Jady Alvarez, a homeschooled mother of five children and YouTuber, says tracing is a great pre-writing exercise. In her YouTube video, she demonstrates a pre-writing exercise where she uses laminated index cards, draws some lines, and gets the child to start tracing with their fingers (i).”

protip_icon Did you know?
Writing is a form of fine motor skill. As your child grows and their fine motor skills improve, their writing skills will also get better.

  1. You could also name the shapes of the letters. Q becomes a cat, P becomes a tongue out, etc.

How To Help Your Toddler Write Numbers

How to teach toddlers to write numbers

Image: IStock

Numbers work much like the alphabet. They come with their own rules and confusions. If you spin yarns around how a preschooler can learn to write numbers, it would help him. Remember anything less mundane is bound to get your preschooler’s attention.

Numbers should be taught the same way as the letters.

  1. Explain basic shapes like a half circle (in case of 3), or two small circles (like an 8).
  1. Start slow and rough. Make big numbers, preferably on sand or shaving cream. This would engage them in the activity. Move to smaller boxes gradually. Do not expect your toddler to get the perfect number shape.
  1. For numbers like 5, train them with curved lines first and then ask them to make it solid.
  1. For numbers like 4, teach them variations and let them choose the one which is easier to draw.
  1. Teach them differences between 1and 7 (1 would not have a hook), 5 and 2 (they are not exactly mirror images), and 9 and 10 (9 has a circle and the line attached, and 10 doesn’t).
  1. Help them through basic understanding and like the alphabet, reading the numbers out aloud while writing them is also advisable.
protip_icon Quick tip
Wooden alphabet and number toys are useful for teaching children letters and numbers.

How To Teach Your Preschooler To Hold A Pencil

How to teach toddlers to write and hold a pencil

Image: Shutterstock

  1. Pencil grips vary depending on the ease with which a toddler can write. However, teaching a toddler the most basic grip, like pinching with thumb and index finger while resting on the middle finger, can go a long way in not just having legible writing but also a pressure-free one.
  1. To begin with, use shorter pencils. This would improve the grip and make the writing easy. Legibility at this point should not be a concern.
  1. Teach your toddlers to hold the pencil only with two fingers in the beginning. This would mean that their handwriting will be poor but would help them get a good grip.
  1. After this exercise for a few days, make them hold a small block such as an eraser, sharpener, etc., with the little and ring finger while they are writing.
protip_icon Did you know?
The perfect pencil grip is known as the tripod grasp. In this grip, the child holds the pencil between their thumb and index finger while supporting the fingers length of the pencil with their middle finger. The ring and little are curled inwards.

What If Your Preschooler Seems Reluctant to Write?

Toddlers could have writing problems for various reasons. Hyperactivity, underdeveloped motor grip, and lack of attention, are just a few to name. Identify what the problem could be, to get them back into writing legibly.

A certified occupational therapy assistant and a mother of two children, Heather says, “My daughter, who is the oldest, was never really interested in drawing, coloring, or writing. Even when we hit Kindergarten, she really disliked it. I continued to provide ways for her to practice while also focusing on fine motor and other skills that I knew she needed (ii).”

1. Develop Proper Hand-Eye Coordination:

  • Playing with a bat and ball or various color beads, or practising catches can improve your toddler’s reaction time.
  • Ask him to chase your finger or draw a circle and keep moving your finger in and out of the circle.
  • This also helps to improve hand-eye coordination.

2. Exercises For Fingers:

  • Encourage him to give a handshake.
  • Engage him in daily chores such as drying clothes and fixing them with clips.
  • You could ask him to close and open his wrist several times or even move his arms around.
  • These activities help in strengthening the muscles and give a better grip at the pencil.

3. Write As Well As Draw:

  • In addition to writing, encourage your toddler to draw. He can start drawing things that he sees around him.
  • These drawings can be basic shapes like stick figures. The idea is to engage him in making shapes.

4. Puzzle Practice:

  • Puzzle practice can be a good way to encourage him to write.
  • You can cut the letters and put them apart.
  • Ask him to assemble them and create a name-puzzle.
  • At first, the names can be random and small. Let him take a while to graduate from three letter words to more.

5. Give Rewards:

Positive reinforcement is often successful with children. Buy him stickers, cars, and toys that he loves. Let him show off the prizes and rewards to his friends. This would encourage him to write.

protip_icon Point to consider
In the beginning, most children can write with both hands. As they grow older, one hand takes dominance over the other. So never try to correct the writing side, as it may lead to confusion.

Schools And Their Role

Schools play an important role in making your toddler learn to write. In fact, you will be surprised to see how your reluctant toddler loves to scribble in his book and bring out their creativity once he begins to go to school.

Pre-schools induce kids to write and recite through creative ways. Here are a few ways:

  • Take up one letter a week, and make them practice on sand plates or whiteboards.
  • Take up activities to make toddlers identify the letters. For example, write letters on flash cards and jumble them, and ask the students to find a particular letter.
  • Repeatedly pronounce the letters for the kids to help them catch their sounds.
  • Make them to draw straight lines and curves to begin with.

Identifying Problems In Toddlers

There is no need to trigger the panic button if your toddler seems interested only in looking at pictures. Some children tend to be restless and find it difficult to be seated at one place.

While some are hyperactive, others turn into daydreaming. Toddlers generally have less attention span compared to adults, which is understandable at their age.

For the hyperactive toddlers, not only writing but listening to stories also becomes a problem. Some toddlers may have more energy than others and need more active time and breaks mixed in with learning. You can talk to teachers to rule out the possibilities of ADHD, although ADHD is not generally diagnosed until around age six.


  1. Preschools help toddlers with such problems.
  1. Intervention at an early stage can be extremely good for your toddler. So make sure she attends school regularly.
  1. Toddlers need time to develop their fine motor skills. This means you need to avoid getting frustrated and help him all through the wonderful journey.
  1. Present writing to toddlers visually as that helps them learn easily.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Why does my child struggle with writing?

Apart from showing occasional disinterest in writing, a child could have considerable difficulty writing when they have an underlying condition such as dyslexia. However, an accurate diagnosis can only be made after consulting your child’s healthcare provider (1).

2. Why is writing important in early childhood?

Writing is one of the most vital skills a child learns in childhood. Research shows that while learning to write, a child develops fine motor skills, learns meaningful ways of expression, and gains knowledge about a language (2).

3. At what age should I start teaching my toddler to write?

Generally, children can be taught to write at as early as three years. However, it is important to note that you should not force them to write because learning should be a fun experience for them.

4. What kind of paper should I use when teaching my toddler to write?

If your child is just learning to write, you may use ruled or plain paper. However, plain paper is generally preferred as young children may find it less restrictive.

5. What are some common mistakes parents make when teaching their toddlers to write?

A few common mistakes parents make are starting too early, not dedicating time to teach, neglecting motor skills, forcing children to write the complex alphabet and numbers, and including worksheets too early.

6. How can I track my toddler’s progress in writing?

You may track your child’s writing progress by observing their writing and comparing their written samples daily or weekly. Over time they will begin to improve, learn to recognize the alphabet and numbers and write their own names and other things. Remember to celebrate their accomplishments and milestones.

7. Are there cultural differences in the way toddlers are taught to write?

Yes, there are cultural differences in how children are taught to write. For example, some cultures may focus on formal writing, others may prioritize motor skill development or fun learning at this stage. Furthermore, there could be differences in the teaching techniques and equipment used.

8. What role do parents play in motivating their toddlers to write?

Writing and scribbling begin at home, even before children go to school. Therefore, the level of encouragement and motivation parents provide is critical in fostering a child’s interest in learning to write.

When it comes to how to teach a toddler to write, there are various fun ways. The idea is first to let them practice holding pencils or crayons and then make simple shapes. You can make your toddler draw the shapes with fingers in the sand, oatmeal, etc., or use re-writable boards. Make sure you present the alphabet and numbers in a visually appealing manner to draw their interest. You may encourage them to write by putting dots that can be traced, holding their hand, or presenting the letters as puzzles. Offer rewards when they write, and be patient as you see your little one progress.

Infographic: How To Improve Writing Skills In Toddlers?

Now that your toddler is communicating efficiently, you may want them to learn how to write. Usually, toddlers scribble or write a letter or two, but some effective and playful strategies might help improve their writing. Check out the infographic below for some of those methods you could try.

effective tips to improve your toddlers writing skills (infographic)

Illustration: Momjunction Design Team

Key Pointers

  • Teach toddlers to write by drawing simple lines and shapes with hands, sticks, or on a chalkboard.
  • Begin with uppercase letters and use the tracing the dot method for both alphabets and numbers.
  • Start with short pencils and teach the basic tripod grasp to hold the pencil.
  • Writing issues in children can be caused by hyperactivity, weak motor grasp, or a lack of attention.
  • Identify the cause of reluctance and improve their writing ability through activities like puzzles, drawing, and finger exercises.
how to teach toddler to write_illustration

Image: Stable Diffusion/MomJunction Design Team

Personal Experience: Source


MomJunction's articles are written after analyzing the research works of expert authors and institutions. Our references consist of resources established by authorities in their respective fields. You can learn more about the authenticity of the information we present in our editorial policy.
  1. Michael Hebert et al. (2018); Why Children With Dyslexia Struggle With Writing and How to Help Them.
  2. Samantha W. Bindman et al. (2014); Parental Writing Support and Preschoolers’ Early Literacy

Nurture your children’s writing prowess! Unveil a treasure trove of valuable advice and techniques designed to empower them on their journey to becoming exceptional writers.

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Alicia Spomer is the founder of Life Anchors Counseling, a private practice that specializes in the treatment of mental health in children, adolescents, and young adults. She is a Nationally Certified Counselor with a masters in professional counseling as well as a post master’s degree in child & adolescent disorders from Grand Canyon University. With 10 years of experience in...read full bio