23 answers

4 Year Old Still Can't Write Letters or Name

my 4 year old still can't write letters let alone his name. His "pictures" that he draws are still scribbles and not the kind of "stick figure" pictures his classmates seem to be drawing. I try to practice with him but all he wants to do is scribble a few lines then go play. I honestly don't think it's a big deal, but his teacher at preschool seems to think itsimportant enough to mention to me. Any suggestions/ experience? Is this really a problem I'm ignoring?

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It is important to mention to you, but at this point, it is not a delay, unless he has other issues that cause you concern too and the fine motor accompanies speech, language, behavioral, visual, cognative, social or sensory concerns.

I would take this as information right now and keep an eye on his fine motor skills and act sooner, rather than later if they do not improve by the time he enters Kindergarten and has formal instruction that is appropriate for his age and development. Preschool is not necessary nor is formal instruction at this age, so if he makes the milestones once he gets to school, he is fine.

If you see other things, or he seems angry or frustrated by his inablity to produce writing when he trys hard, then you might consider an evaluation with an Occupational Therapist.

The good news is, if he is just not interested at this point, all the early gains that his peers seem to be making will disapear very quickly as those children without accelerated instruction will catch up rappidly, once they are exposed to the instruction at a developmentally appropriate time.

M.

3 moms found this helpful

Relax, this is normal! Kids all develop on their own time line and usually fall outside the US canned educational system norm at some point. My son wouldn't even acknowledge that letters existed, though he would happily tell you what color of ink they were printed in! He did respond slightly better to numbers, so we had him practice with those when we could rope him in for a minute. Now at 8, he's caught up (very quickly I might add) since he decided he wants to do it!

3 moms found this helpful

More Answers

Do not worry about it.
Just continue to have him practice when he is in the mood.

The one thing I never worked on with our daughter was fine motor skills. When he was in Kindergarten her teacher mentioned it so we worked on it for a few weeks and she did great.

Get playdo and the two of you roll out as many little balls of playdo with just his thumb and forefinger as he can sit still for.

Have him only use clothes pins, using only his thumb and forefinger, (make it a game) to pick up different things on a table, out of a bag he cannot look into..

Give him a bnx of paper clips and have him make a chain out of all of them.
Start off with a box of the large ones, then get a box of the little ones.

Get tissue paper and lay it over a magazine or an old book, and let him trace with a thin crayon or regular sized pencil.

get a large sheet of old gift wrap paper or uses a large sheet of paper and make a "road" for him to "drive" his little cars along. Tell him to try to only use his "pointing finger" then to try to only use his thumb also each one of his finger. have a race and see which finger is the fastest.

Use tracing paper over a piece of paper that you have already written his initials. Only use capital letters. Then his first name, then last name..

This is messy so you may want to do this out side. Get a roasting pan or a cookie sheet with sides and pour some sort of powdered food on it.. Powdered sugar, instant pudding mix, jello mix..

Then have him draw with his fingers.. Again have him use one finger at a time.

All of this can be done with fingers from each hand. It will seem like fun, when you are just doing this at any moment. Also we used to do some of these things this at restaurants while we waited t order or food to arrive. .

6 moms found this helpful

S.,
In pre-school, my son's teachers pointed out to me that my son was having difficulty writing and was grasping crayons and pencils awkwardly. He would also tell me/them that his hands hurt when he did use a writing instrument for any length of time. I discussed it with the pediatrician who Rx'd an OT evaluation. He had a small fine motor delay and his hands were weak. OT was wonderful and made a HUGE difference.
He's still not very interested in art though and he's no Picasso but he completed first grade with Straight A's and easily completed all of his assignments involving writing.
(PM me if you'd like any tips on activities that are hand strengthening if you think he has a similar issue.)
Otherwise, I think it's just a case of all kids having different levels of artistic interest and ability.

5 moms found this helpful

I was a preschool teacher prior to having children of my own - and I think that a 4 year old who can't write letters yet is totally normal.

Letters are extremely difficult to write. Try swapping hands and writing the alphabet to jog your memory. Its easy to be worried, because to us it is easy... I promise when he gets to Kindergarten, you will see a change!!

Good for you for pushing him a little though... he will get there!!

4 moms found this helpful

I know there's this big push to get kids to start writing early but the occupational therapist that have worked with my son (he has autism w/ fine and gross motor delays) have all expressed their disapproval of kids having to write at such a young age. The reason being is that it takes time to develop the tripod grasp needed to hold a pencil correctly and, if the child is required to start writing too soon, they can end up holding the pencil incorrectly and damage their thumb.

That said, since they are probably having your son write in preschool, you can always buy a special pencil grip to put on his pencil so that he can form a correct grip on his pencil a little easier. There's a company called Super Duper that has a lot of teaching supplies and occupational therapy supplies that you can access online. The last time I checked, they did have specially designed pencil grips available.

Another thing you can do, if you don't want to push the writing with the pencil issue, is spraying foam soap or shaving cream on the side of the tub while he is taking a bath and encouraging him to use his finger to write out his letters. Or you can use those special chunky triangle shaped crayons to have him write out his letters.

I'm with you though; he is still a bit young and he still has another year for that whole tripod grasp and writing skills to kick in before he starts kindergarten. A lot of development can and often does take place during the course of a year.

Hope this helps.

4 moms found this helpful

I think his teacher at pre-school sounds high-strung, or maybe she's just mentioning it for liability reasons since some parents would hold them liable for NOT informing them.

It sounds really normal. There's nothing wrong with your son, especially since he's a boy. Boy just need more physical activity than anything else, especially at this age. Why on earth would he want to focus on drawing when he's really dying to do something more constructive (in his mind) with his hands?

Read "Bringing Up Boys" by Dr. James Dobson. While I don't agree with everything he's ever written (it would be weird if I did since no one is exactly like anyone else after all) I found this book very helpful and found that it gave me some much needed perspective on boys in general.

Best of luck!

4 moms found this helpful

The nervous system maturation and fine-motor skills needed for writing and drawing (or any other set of skills) develop at vastly different times for different children. If you visit a grade school and look at the art and "stories" commonly posted in hallways, you'll see an amazing range of ability – all of it normal.

Thank his teachers for alerting you to a possible problem, and keep an eye on it. If your son's development is really lacking, it will more than likely show up in other areas as well. But at 4-5 years old, he simply may not be ready to write yet. No big deal. I hope his teachers are not putting too much focus on "work" at his age – learning should be fun in preschool.

4 moms found this helpful

It is important to mention to you, but at this point, it is not a delay, unless he has other issues that cause you concern too and the fine motor accompanies speech, language, behavioral, visual, cognative, social or sensory concerns.

I would take this as information right now and keep an eye on his fine motor skills and act sooner, rather than later if they do not improve by the time he enters Kindergarten and has formal instruction that is appropriate for his age and development. Preschool is not necessary nor is formal instruction at this age, so if he makes the milestones once he gets to school, he is fine.

If you see other things, or he seems angry or frustrated by his inablity to produce writing when he trys hard, then you might consider an evaluation with an Occupational Therapist.

The good news is, if he is just not interested at this point, all the early gains that his peers seem to be making will disapear very quickly as those children without accelerated instruction will catch up rappidly, once they are exposed to the instruction at a developmentally appropriate time.

M.

3 moms found this helpful

Relax, this is normal! Kids all develop on their own time line and usually fall outside the US canned educational system norm at some point. My son wouldn't even acknowledge that letters existed, though he would happily tell you what color of ink they were printed in! He did respond slightly better to numbers, so we had him practice with those when we could rope him in for a minute. Now at 8, he's caught up (very quickly I might add) since he decided he wants to do it!

3 moms found this helpful

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