Get babies, toddlers, and preschoolers ready to write

Reading and writing go hand in hand. Getting your child ready to learn how to write starts from birth. Before they can write letters, children need to have sufficient dexterity, hand-eye coordination, and muscle development.  


Give your babies opportunities throughout the day to pull, push and grasp.

Even simple activities like grasping your finger, holding a rattle, and playing with their food help support the skills and development they will need when they start learning how to write.


Scribbling and drawing are precursors to writing letters, so load toddlers up with chunky crayons and paper.

Write your child’s name on any art or coloring project they do, and talk about each letter as you write it (and once they have started writing letters, encourage them to write their names themselves).

Point out written letters and words on signs during outings to help your child understand that letters and print have meaning.


As with babies and toddlers, preschoolers need many opportunities to use their hands and their fingers before they learn how to write. Play provides a great opportunity for kids to develop these needed skills.

Do you remember playing with playdough when you were a kid? I remember, and I loved it! Think about how you used your hands and fingers to manipulate the playdough. I spent many hours as a child working that playdough into all kinds of shapes and figures. While I was having fun, my hands were developing the strength and coordination that I needed for when I started to learn how to write letters.  

Sharing fingerplays with your babies, toddlers, and preschoolers is another great way to develop manual dexterity and their vocabulary, too. One fingerplay that I’ve done many times over the years during Toddler and Preschool Storytimes is Peter Pointer.

Peter pointer is up (point index finger upwards towards the sky)

and Peter Pointer is down (point down)

Peter Pointer is dancing all around the town (dance fingers all around!)

Dancing on my shoulders (touch shoulders)

Dancing on my head (touch head)

Dancing on my knees (touch knees)

Now put them all to bed (hide fingers behind your back)

Check out these books with rhymes, songs, and fingerplays you can do with your babies, toddlers, and preschoolers.

Diez deditos

Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star

Big Fat Hen

Read to your Baby Every Day

-Annie, Children's Librarian

Read, Write, Talk, Sing, Play!

When children are given a chance to explore scribbling, draw pictures, and tell stories, they are learning reading skills. Being an active participant in writing helps keep children excited about reading stories.

Read more about early literacy and how you can make a difference in your child's life.