29 answers

4 Year Old Refuses to Write

His preschool teacher gave him some homework to write some numbers and letters. But he dosent want to write hes just holding the pencil and not writing with it. He only writes when I hold his hand and write for him. How do i make him write on his own?

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

Whoa!! I thought of posting this is exact question today!!! My pre-k son will not write either. If I try to get him to practice, he will just push more to "not". His teacher gave us some activities to help with fine motor skills that don't focus on writing like using tweezers to pick up small objects, cutting up paper and glueing small pieces on paper, writing/drawing in salt or sugar on a cookie sheet. Margie M. had some great suggestions as well.

I'm going to leave my son alone about it--it has worked with everything else. As soon as I stopped trying to get him to crawl, talk, walk, and use the potty, he did them all!!

Good luck to you!!

6 moms found this helpful

Why does he need to write? I understand that some kids are into writing letters at this age, but SOME AREN'T. If he doesn't want to, he won't... when he wants to, he will. There is no prize for being 4 years old and writing. Let him practice when he's interested. Relax for now... you don't want homework to be a fight at this age!

5 moms found this helpful

Homework for a preschooler? Are you kidding me? There is no way my 4-year old would write right now, much less do homework.

I don't even recall being made to write back in kindergarten and definitely no homework until the 1st grade. Sounds like too much too soon to me.

2 moms found this helpful

More Answers

Why is a 4 yr old expected to write?

Get some paint and a paint brush and have him paint the numbers.
Have him do finger painting.
Have him write the numbers in mud with a stick and take a picture for the teacher.
Use chalk on the sidewalk, again take a picture
Use the bathtub crayons on the bathtub.

I happen to disagree with the teacher. If a child is not ready to write at 4 and wants to do more gross motor then that is where he is developmentaly. Try more gross motor skills to learn his letters and numbers.

12 moms found this helpful

He is not ready.. Why would he need to write?
Maybe just have him trace the letters with his fingers.. then see if he is interested in trying to copy the letters. But do not get upset with him if he is not interested,

He would enjoy some fine motor skill activities to build up some of those skills, he will not realize it is therapy or exercise.

With playdo, have him make tiny balls with just his fore finger and thumb. Then have him place them in a line, side by side. After they are all lined up, have him squish each one with his forefinger or thumb.

Get a big piece of paper and have him draw some straight lines. then some wiggle lines. Get a small car and have him "drive" the car with just his fore finger then just with his thumb and have him "drive on the lines."..

Pour out a piggy bank and have him separate all of the coins into piles. Then have him place each coin back in the bank.

give him a pair of tongs and have him practice picking up different hings, only using the tongs.

Then let him try with a clothes pin..

Sidewalk chalk
Paint brush with water "painting" on a sidewalk
using pencils to connect some dots..

These are all things that will help strengthen his fingers and hands. They are all fun..

I just remembered these also..
I forgot about these.. Have him button every shirt you hang up as the come out of the washer or dryer once they are hung up.

Get a box of large paper clips and have hm make a chain.. Then later get a box or small paper clips and have him make those into a chain.

Hang the chain in his room at his level.. Each time he makes a picture at school or home.. have him "attach" it to the chain.

Give him old magazines and have him cut out pictures. Then give him glue sticks and to Paste (with a brush applicator) and let him make collages.. The next time you need a gift wrapped. Consider letting him cover the box in cut up pieces of paper, news paper, etc..

REMIND him, "we NEVER" cut up books.. And only the magazines and newspapers mom, dad and the teacher allow you to lose.

10 moms found this helpful

I don't believe preschoolers should be doing homework. Sorry. That's just wrong. He's only 4. Some kids can write when they are four, but many can not. Neither of my boys could, my second boy is nearly 5 and he is starting to write, he can write his name... he knows his numbers and letters, but doesn't really write any but those in his name.

My daughter on the other hand, is already pretending to write at 2, she "writes her name" on everything... perhaps because she sees her brothers doing it, or maybe its her personality, but I'm guessing she'll be ready to write earlier than the boys were.

I'd chat with your sons teacher some, but wouldn't worry a bit about it.

J.

9 moms found this helpful

Um, he's 4. My 4-year-old (actually will be 5 in December) is eating his dinosaurs with other dinosaurs right now. He also colors lovely loops with crayons. Children this age are learning the fine motor skills that will allow them to learn to write when they are ready to, and it sounds like your son is not ready to. Why is there homework in preschool, anyway? Unless he had so much fun and wants to keep doing the same work at home, let him keep the "school" at preschool for now. If the teacher is too work oriented and not enough learn-through-play oriented, it might be time to question the choice of preschool.

7 moms found this helpful

Homework in preschool? The more I learn about schooling in America, the more certain I become that I am homeschooling. Seriously?

All the research shows that PLAYING is essential for the first 7 years. In fact, no structured curriculum until 7. Yet, here we are, giving homework to 4 year olds.

Finland followed our research. They rank number 1 in the world in education, and guess what? No formal curriculum till 7.

He will do it, like walking, when he is ready. They all do. Life isn't a race to finish first. Finishing first just means you die early.

6 moms found this helpful

Whoa!! I thought of posting this is exact question today!!! My pre-k son will not write either. If I try to get him to practice, he will just push more to "not". His teacher gave us some activities to help with fine motor skills that don't focus on writing like using tweezers to pick up small objects, cutting up paper and glueing small pieces on paper, writing/drawing in salt or sugar on a cookie sheet. Margie M. had some great suggestions as well.

I'm going to leave my son alone about it--it has worked with everything else. As soon as I stopped trying to get him to crawl, talk, walk, and use the potty, he did them all!!

Good luck to you!!

6 moms found this helpful

Kids.... do NOT all 'write' at 4 years old. And, boys are often later.
I have a boy and girl.
My son, was like that.
He is now in Kindergarten. Yes. He is 5 now. He was in Preschool too. He was not into writing. No biggie. But he is writing now. In Kindergarten. His Kindergarten Teacher said (because I asked her)... "DON'T WORRY! Its no biggie. All kids are at different ranges. He will get it..." and she emphasized 'DO NOT FORCE HIM." (which I don't anyway).

I can't believe, Preschool has homework.

"Writing" also has to do with 'fine-motor' skills. And dexterity and coordination of the hand/fingers and hand-eye coordination.

Tracing... is also very fun.
Or doing mazes.
Or picking up and grouping small objects.
Coloring a color book.
These all work the fine-motor skills.
Playing with play-doh too.

I would NOT fret about it... nor pressure him.
I would also, if that were me... talk to the teacher and tell her, this is not a pressured thing for you and he.
MANY kids, this age, DO do better when you hold their hand as they write. THAT is how, they learn. It is a process. A process.

Your son is young.

ALSO, once your son does begin to 'write'.... do not expect it, to be all correct or all nice and pretty nor all straight in a line and spaced perfectly. It is not. And this is normal. ONLY until say about 2nd grade, does a kids penmanship/writing, get more uniform and straight in a line.

6 moms found this helpful

My son hated writing in kindergarten, hated coloring. He was forced to write every day and it was actually traumatizing for him and he wouldn't pick up a writing implement for two years after that (we switched him to a Montessori school that didn't require it, his teacher recognized the problem and worked gently with him to start using a pencil). We were told he wouldn't develop fine motor skills, but tiny legos took care of that!

I think 4yo is too young to try to force a child to write. I like Margie's suggestions, that's what we did with our son.

5 moms found this helpful

Why does he need to write? I understand that some kids are into writing letters at this age, but SOME AREN'T. If he doesn't want to, he won't... when he wants to, he will. There is no prize for being 4 years old and writing. Let him practice when he's interested. Relax for now... you don't want homework to be a fight at this age!

5 moms found this helpful

You wait. Tell his preschool teacher that he's not ready for writing. It's common for boys to take longer and 4 years old is very young for most boys to start writing. I would NOT pressure him over it. It's really too young. My son can read at 1st grade level (he's 4), but writing is not his speciality. He will catch up, but right now, I'm not pressuring him. I really wouldn't push it. He's only four. Let him play and have fun and let the teacher know that your son isn't going to be writing yet. At least...that's what I'd do:-)

4 moms found this helpful

Is he the oldest child and really into perfectionism? That could be part of it too, along with the things the other ladies mentioned. My daughter is just about 4 and I've tried getting her to write on my own but she always says its too hard, she can't do it, she wants me to help her, etc. I asked my Parents as Teachers about it and she said it may have to do with the "oldest child syndrome". I know it sounds cheesy, but after looking into it, both my kids do fit into the oldest and youngest thing.

I think doing some of the other things the moms below mentioned is a good start. Also, find out if the teacher really wants this stuff done at home or it's just extra practice. I find it hard to believe that preschool has homework, especially so early in the school year! Also, clue her in on the struggles you're having so maybe she can give you other advice or help him more during the day.

3 moms found this helpful

Have FUN with him. He obviously wants the attention, so just laugh and hold his hand and write for him.

Isn't the point having him learn his letters? Then hold his hand, if that's what he wants.

I promise you he won't want you to hold his hand while he writes when he is 17. Enjoy this while you can!!

p.s. - I am SO impressed with all of the other moms' answers below.

2 moms found this helpful

Homework for a preschooler? Are you kidding me? There is no way my 4-year old would write right now, much less do homework.

I don't even recall being made to write back in kindergarten and definitely no homework until the 1st grade. Sounds like too much too soon to me.

2 moms found this helpful

You have received some great advice!! Wow! I don't agree with homework for your son either.

Some more ideas:
Let him cut out coupons that you don't want. My kids LOVED this because they thought they were helping me.

Draw lines or shapes on paper that he can trace with a fat marker or chunky crayon.

String beads or macaroni

Lacing activities where they have a shape with holes all the way around and they use big shoe strings to go in and out of the holes.

Have him roll play dough into long snakes and then form letters with it.

Give him colored paper and let him tear paper into small quarter size pieces and glue them on a seasonal shape. I still have the big pumpkins that our girls made and will hang them up soon.

He will get there! Don't worry!

2 moms found this helpful

My 4 yr old daughter is not fond of it either. But they are working on their names right now...I bought one of those letter tablets at dollar store that lets them write in a line. I write her name on the top line. I tell her finish this page when you are done we will go to the park, go for a walk, go play outside w/ your friends. It seems to be all that really works. And my daughter really likes to listen to music so i put on the radio and it seems to be more fun and easier for her to sing songs while she does it :) Good Luck!

1 mom found this helpful

Pencils are hard to hold for that age. I let my 4 year old practice letters by holding the large children's markers.

1 mom found this helpful

I agree that homework for a four year old is not appropriate. Also, have they taught handwriting skills in the preschool. It would not make sense that they would expect a four year old to be writing, especially if they have not been working on teaching them.

My son, now 16, would not write either. Even when he started Kindergarten, he would refuse to write. He is very smart and gifted and taught himself to read at age four, but would not write his name. He was later diagnosed with dysgraphia (difficulty with writing). I realized that he had never been taught the mechanics of handwriting. On the FIRST day of Kindergarten, there was a sentence on the board that they were supposed to copy, but no instruction of how to make the letters. My son struggled all through Kindergarten. He made all of his letters incorrectly and it was painful to watch him. When I talked with the school counselor, she said not to worry, they would work on his handwriting in first grade.

Well, first grade came and went and he still struggled. I hired an occupational therapist during the summer to teach him to handwriting. She said it was too late to try to correct his handwriting after two years of doing it all wrong. Instead she taught him cursive, since they would be starting that in second grade. It helped to improve his handwriting.

So, I am telling you all of this because you need to intervene before he develops bad skills and an aversion to writing. I would forget the homework and tell the preschool to get real. Check to see if the Kindergarten he plans to attend will teach handwriting. If they don't, then you will need to begin teaching him yourself. The tutor that we had suggested all of the small motor skill activities that others have suggested. She also used lots of tactile experiences. Take away the pencil and let him make letters in pudding or shaving cream. She had letters cut out of sand paper for him to trace with his finger. Let him make the letter shapes in the air with his finger.

My mom taught Kindergarten and First Grade for 30 years. She used to have kids make straight lines for weeks, then curved lines, then circles, before even attempting letter shapes, much less writing their names. I think this is an area that is being neglected in schools today.

I would back off for now and not make an issue of it. It is not unusual for a four year old boy to not write. But I would begin working on his small motor skills and be proactive in teaching him handwriting skills. I wish I had known all of this 12 years ago.

1 mom found this helpful

My son is also 4 and has no interest in writing. Luckily he hasn't gotten homework yet because I can not get him to write! Was glad to read all the responses you got. Guess they will learn in their own time :).

1 mom found this helpful

I just wanted to say THANK YOU for posting this question!!

My son is 4, in preK and hates to write. I felt this tremendous pressure to work with him on it and it only made us both frustrated! I started feeling the "needs to learn to write" pressure in his 3's preschool actually, where lots of the kids (mostly girls, but some boys too) were writing their names and some pretty clearly without any assistance. My son...nothin'! I was trying hard to not compare, and I do know every child is different, but I think I started feeling like I was failing him in some way as a mother by not spending the right amount of time working on this stuff with him. But everytime I would try to work on it with him (and still to this day) he would not want to do it. I gave him most of the summer off and within the first week of PreK (a new school for him) I received an update that he needed practice in writing and cutting. So again, I started feeling guilty for not working with him on it over the summer and I started immediately "trying" to work with him again last week. But still for some reason, it really frustrates him (and ultimately me too). Im not giving up, but I am trying new methods to make it more fun for him. The ideas I am reading below are awesome! And I think they will help us acheive the ultimate goal in time. I so appreciate this question, and I am so happy to hear my child is in the "normal" range for his age! His fine motor is awesome when it comes to building and taking apart the little legos, and tweezer stuff. I think its just a matter of time and somehow increasing his interest level and the writing will come.

Thanks again! And thank you too to all the responses below! I cant wait to get a stick and write in the dirt! Now that sounds way more fun than sitting at a table with a pencil! ;))))

1 mom found this helpful

My daughter was never into writing either and still isn't. But I will tell you this she LOVES to read.
I would try making it more fun then just a piece of paper and pencil. Get creative.

1 mom found this helpful

I teach preschool Montessori. I taught by having the child trace the numbers and letters across the page. Then retrace in different colored pencils. I had my nephew trace on a board with markers. It took him a few months to not trace. So I wouldn't worry about pushing him. He needs to use colored pencils always so he can get used to holding a pencil. When he uses a coloring book, have him use colored pencils only. Hope this helps.

get him a refrigerator box & let him decorate it with markers! Reward him for each of the #s/letters that he writes. Worked for my son!

It's so frustrating to be expected to teach children that don't want to do it. BUT, I agree that he's young and there is time. I believe that if you tell them that you want them to give him something else to do other than writing at that time, then it should be good enough. But, are you talking about a paid for program, or are you talking about headstart? Seems like if you are paying, you call the shots. If the school is free and he's only there part of the day, then they call the shots. This is my main reason for not liking public schools.

You can't really make him. It's no different than with potty training. They are stubborn at this age. THAT SAID... I have so many kids that do a wonderful job as early as barely 3. I wonder is there other areas he's very stubborn with? If this is the only area then I'd give him more time. If he stomps his feet and is controlling in other ways then it may be time to work on his behavior or get him evaluated.

I am having the same issue with my 3 about to be 4 year old daughter. I also have a Son whom just turned 5. He was writing his name and numbers from the age of 3. But my daughter who is just exactly a year younger, refuses and makes excuses not to write and always say " I can't do it". All I have summed this up to being is, all children develop totally different. My son is an exceptional 5 year old, he's a quick learner. My daughter on the other hand is taking her time and being a kid, which is fine. I am practicing these things with her, but not forcing her. I don't want her to be turned off from school work and think it's bad! Take your time with him, do traceable sheets and let him do it at his own pace. All will be well.

Updated

I am having the same issue with my 3 about to be 4 year old daughter. I also have a Son whom just turned 5. He was writing his name and numbers from the age of 3. But my daughter who is just exactly a year younger, refuses and makes excuses not to write and always say " I can't do it". All I have summed this up to being is, all children develop totally different. My son is an exceptional 5 year old, he's a quick learner. My daughter on the other hand is taking her time and being a kid, which is fine. I am practicing these things with her, but not forcing her. I don't want her to be turned off from school work and think it's bad! Take your time with him, do traceable sheets and let him do it at his own pace. All will be well.

Please don't stress yourself or him; he's just not ready. Four, especially for a boy, is too young to expect him to master handwriting. Some kids may be ready to start at this age, but if he is balking like this, he isn't. Holding a pencil and writing requires fine motor skills that his little hands just haven't developed. Give him some fat crayons or markers made for little hands, and just let him play and color the page. You can dot out the letters, and show him how to follow the dots, if he'd like to try. But no pressure, and praise him for whatever scribbles or coloring he does. I'd speak with his preschool teacher, and let her know he isn't ready and won't be doing the writing homework, but will color and mark on the page as he feels comfortable. I don't understand why some schools want to pressure these little ones to go beyond their development. Enjoy this phase with him; it goes by so fast.

Does he know how to form his letters? if not get some dotted letters book and let him trace over.

He's too young! Let him mature another year and he'll probably do it. I can't imagine homework for preschool!!! What's up with that?? Kids don't need that kind of pressure at that age! I taught preschool for 5 years and NEVER required that sort of thing! Kids need to play at that age, learn colors, shapes, etc. But not handwriting. That comes later. Before long, someone will be expecting preschoolers to keep a journal!

How are his fine motor skills?
Does it hurt him to grip a pencil?

He might need some fine motor work...or maybe he's uninterested.

Is he a perfectionist? My daughter hated coloring and wouldn't do it until she was able to stay in the lines. Now she likes to color. She didn't like it before because she wasn't able to do it as well as she thought she should.

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