47 answers

Preschool and Writing Words/letters

So my first child just started Pre-school this week, he is 3 1/2 yrs old, and man I felt inadequate in parenting! Almost every kid could write their names already! I watched one child write a letter to their grandparents, with their mother telling them which letter to write and she wrote it letter for letter without mistakes! It was difficult to keep my mouth from hitting the floor! I really felt like I was a hurting my child's educational future! How old should they be when they start learning to write? So far he hasn't shown much interest in learning to write letters at home and I don't want to force him. Any ideas on how I can get him interested? Also he still does fist coloring and writing... how can I get him to hold the crayon correctly? When I try to fix it he gets upset with me. Please tell me I am not a loser parent! :(

Thank you and please be kind in your responses.


3 moms found this helpful

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So What Happened?™

I just wanted to thank everyone for all their positive repsonses! You truly helped me a lot, mentally. Just as an update, my little man is in one of those learn by play preschools that everyone talked so highly about. After talking to one of his teachers I learned that the class consists of kids who Will be 4 yrs old by Dec 9... meaning some of them are already 4 and are getting ready to head off to preschool next year versus my son who will be turning 4 in December. Thank you for all the tips on books and games to help him through his progression of learning his letters. You are all so wonderful and it is great to know such a great group of strong, intelligent women are available to answer all my learning as I go mommy questions. :)

Thank you again!

Featured Answers

I still "fist" my pen, and I am constantly getting compliments on my penmanship. Just throwing that out there! :)

Children do better when they are ready and eager to learn something. Somethings especially with fine motor skills girls show an interest earlier as they do with words, not always. You are definitely not a bad mother!! Give him lots of opportunities, but let him enjoy the experience and don't worry about "right way" He will do fine in his own time!!

Great grandma N. (early childhood educator)

Hi J.,

My daughter is just starting preschool too! She is 2-1/2 but there are 3yrs in the class. The first thing the teach said is "let them be kids and let them play. Kids learn while they play and there will be plenty of time to teach them how to read and write."

Good luck and have fun!

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Social and emotional development are far more important at that age. It is so easy to compare kids and worry, but try not to fall into that trap. It's never ending. I was reading at 3.5, and you know what? No one has ever asked me about when I started to read whan I applied for college, jobs, grad school, etc. Kids develop at different rates in different areas. Emotional intelligence is just as important as (if not more so than) academic skills when it comes to doing well in life. My early start was just that -- an early start. I remember being concerned a few years ago when my friend showed me how her son could (at 2) recite all the American presidents. And then I thought, who cares? If we had chosen to train our son to do this, I'm sure he could have as well. However, we believed (and still do) that little kids should be playing, not memorizing random facts. My son is in first grade at an excellent school, and several kids in his class still flip lower case b's and d's, and the teacher says that this is perfectly normal.

2 moms found this helpful

You are definately not a loser parent. I was a 1st grade teacher for 10 years and now stay home with my kids...my 5 year old twins just started kinder. Although all children learn at different levels and the range for normal is so big at that age, writing at 3 is not considered normal or developmentally appropriate at all. Three year olds need to be playing, not writing. There is a philosphy for preschool called learning through play...I completely agree with it (I'm sure you can find info if you google it). Through play activities your child will develop important skills which will lead to the writing and reading. Most three year olds fine motor skills (especially boys) are not developed enough to be writing. To develop those skills kids need to be playing with playdough, painting, threading objects onto string, playing in the sand/mud, etc. There is so much time for writing....let him play. I have not forced any learning on my kids and both are already reading and beginning to write. By kinder (5 years) teachers hope kids can write their name and some of the letters...some do this and more some can not do this at all.

I say at 3 let him develop at his own pace right now. My son didn't show any interest in coloring or writing until he was about 4 1/2...and he is doing fine. If you push things on him he is likely to resist you and this could cause problems in the future. When he is interested he will pick up the crayons and start coloring.

Don't be too hard on yourself. Enjoy this time. It goes by so fast. He'll be in kinder before you kow it.

1 mom found this helpful

First of all you are not a looser parent! The child you were watching may have been in preschool since 6wks of age or that child was just ready to write. Relax! Second, children will write and hold crayons/pencils the 'proper' way when they are ready. Some are ready before others. Remember the curve your ped shows you at well baby checks? This same curve applies to the rate at which children learn. They learn things when they are ready. I feel your child will be writing his letters by the end of the preschool year! Take it from a preschool teacher of 3 year olds for 6 years to just relax and try not to compair your son to the other children. :)

1 mom found this helpful

Absolutely not! I think some parents try too hard to create superchildren. It is not a competition. Both my girls entered kindergarten knowing their capital letters and learned all the rest. Preschool is supposed to be about developing social skills and learning some structured interaction. It is not about doing kindergarten work two years early. I never aimed for superchildren and just supported their natural sense of curiosity. They are both excellent students in GATE (gifted) classes in grades 7 and 4. Your son is doing fine!

1 mom found this helpful

I use to ba a preschool teacher and there is a fun game you can play with him to help get him to use the proper pencil hold. Get a clothes pin and a bowl and some cotton balls. Then tell him to see how many cotton balls he can get in the bowl. YOu can time it if you wish to make it more fun. Pinching the clothes pin works his fingers to help hold the pencil right. They will also teach him in preschool. A lot of the time what happens is he will see his peers do it a copy it. Whats importent is that you made the great choice to put him in preschool. Also I was just wondering how old the other child was that was writing. They could be four. You would not believe the difference a year could make.

1 mom found this helpful

J., You are a GREAT parent! You have not damaged your child's educational future in the least. I had a friend who taught her child to write her name very early, and I felt like JUNK because my son could not even recognize the letters! Then a friend who is a kindergarten teacher REALLY encouraged me. She said that forcing the issue would probably backfire and that it was normal for a child to not know how to form letters at age 3!
If you really want to try a good reading program (at your child's pace) you could try "How to Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons". You can get it on Amazon or at Barnes and Noble. It teaches phonics and it's SUPER EASY! You don't even have to practice writing letters if you choose not to.
There is NO PRESSURE! You did not fail your child. I know it's hard but don't compare yourself to other parents. You are everything your child needs!

1 mom found this helpful

You are not a loser mom! Every child develops at their own pace. Don't compare your child's writing (or any other ability, although it is hard to do) to other kids. In fact when I went to a preschool fair and the preschools were showing off how nicely their students write, it turned me off from their school. To me, it showed that those particular schools focused too much on handwriting and leaving out other important parts of a child's education. Just because a child has sloppy handwriting or can't write his or her name does not mean that he or she is not as smart or as capable as other kids.

It you want to make writing fun, one activity is forming letters in a tub of sand (or sand box). Write the letters and have him trace it with his finger. You can also write his name. Have him use crayons to trace his name. Tracing letters is very important at the beginning stage of writing. It makes letters and writing less challenging and frustrating. A third activity is making letters out of play dough. Finally, you could also have him "write" a letter to a friend or grandparent. Have him tell you what he is writing and you write it for him. (His writing may look like a batch of chicken scratch, but he is connecting marks on the paper to mean something. Eventually he will get interested in writing and letters. When my daughter was about 3.5 years old, I also found that my daughter did not want to write. It was hard for her and she got easily frustrated. If it had a purpose, like writing a card to a friend, then she was more willing to try.

Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

Hi J.,
there's just tons of research being done on brain development lately.. what I've gleaned is earlier is NOT better. It actually just wastes effort.
I've always found it slightly inhumane to force academics (even introduce academics, actually ) on a child under 5. They have SO much to learn, walking, talking all kinds of coordination, problem solving, social skills, it seem disrespectful to the process to add anything!
Preschool can be wonderful, but be sure that the program you are entering is a good fit for your lifestyle!
Enjoy your little one!

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