Learning to Write & Draw

In young children, writing and drawing skills are developed in much the same way. Usually, the first exposure is when babies are about a year old and are newly able to grasp a crayon or pencil and move it around on paper. Writing and drawing are not only crucial life skills, but they also improve hand-eye coordination, build fine motor skills and help strengthen finger muscles.

Write Draw

Sure, your child may appear to only be making scribbles, but those first marks are very important. Your child is starting to understand how her actions can create something new. Not only does early writing teach her cause and effect, it helps build self-confidence and creativity, and can even boost future reading skills.

Parents can encourage writing and drawing simply by offering a variety of different materials to their children. There will be no precision at first, so chunky crayons, chalk, finger paint or wide markers that are easy for small hands to grab are great choices at such a young age. Some toddlers will take well to one medium, but might not like the mess or feel of another, so be sure to offer different options. Therefore, they will be able to practice writing with whatever implement makes them most comfortable.

Here are some other tips:

  • Make art a regular part of playtime together. Don’t worry about your own artistic abilities (or lack thereof), just start a fun routine you share together.
  • Let your child experiment and explore. Don’t try to tell him what to write or draw at this age. The goal is merely to put writing implement onto paper. Any kind of mark he makes is OK.
  • Don’t judge their early scrawls. If she tells you she drew a picture of something you can’t recognize, go ahead and play along and pretend you see what she sees. Resist criticizing.
  • Verbally encourage your child’s attempts to write. Positive feedback, even just a simple “wow!” can be beneficial.
  • Praise the process, not the product. Comment on the choices your child made, like the colors or the lines they drew. Don't try to sum up what your child has created; instead, ask your child about his drawing so he can explain.
  • Display your child’s art and writing to show her you are proud of her work. If you have room, hang them in a special place or dedicate a wall in your home to her drawings.

Remember that children will develop these skills over time, and growth doesn’t happen at the same pace for everyone. As they mature, the scribbles will gradually become more controlled and complex. If you keep offering fun experiences with different art and writing materials, they will continue to make progress with both their writing and drawing skills.