A Complete Checklist of Age-Appropriate Writing Skills for Preschoolers

One of the key learning skills acquired during the early years is writing. 

The importance of writing skills for preschoolers goes beyond a literacy developmental milestone. Writing lets children express their thoughts and ideas through the written words.

Being able to write fluently is a life skill needed as a child transitions from preschool to primary school, and eventually into society as an adult.

Just like other skills such as literacy development, there is a natural progression children go through from the moment they are first introduced to writing.

Children who are guided by their playgroup teachers in Singapore are strengthening their prewriting skills through consistent exposure. By kindergarten, they will be able to write proper sentences.
While children develop differently, there are some writing milestones to meet by a certain age. Here’s an overview of the key writing milestones by age, and what parents can do to encourage their children to develop this skill: 

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Writing skills checklist by age: a guide for preschoolers

3 to 4 years old (Pre-nursery to Nursery):

•    Draws lines and waves on paper
•    May make marks or strokes that look like letters
•    Able to write some letters 
•    May be able to write their own name but not fully legible
•    May draw characters or symbols to represent certain words
•    May try writing other forms of writing e.g. a letter, list or card.

At this age, parents can encourage little ones to scribble and doodle using various writing tools like crayons, markers and paint brushes. Through exploration, nursery-aged children are strengthening their fine motor skills as they attempt scribbling or doodling. 

Parents can also guide them with wipe-clean books which uses an erasable marker paired with writing activities such as dotted lines for children to trace. 

On special occasions like birthdays, try making a birthday card with your child. Using non-toxic ink pads, children can use finger stamping to create a heart shape or maybe even to outline the letters ‘HAPPY BIRTHDAY’. Although this may not be actual writing, these pre-writing activities give young children an idea of how writing helps communicate messages and offers them an experience of how fun writing can be as they nurture those skills.

4 to 5 years old (Nursery to Kindergarten):

•    Has better pencil grasp
•    Able to write letters more legibly
•    Can write own name by 5 years old
•    Spell words by how they sound
•    Able to spell simple words phonetically 

If your child is attending preschool in Singapore, he/she is likely to be learning phonics at this age. Thus, he would be familiar with the alphabet and is probably able to spell simple words with the writing skills gained through preschool.

Parents can involve them when making a grocery list even if they aren’t able to spell accurately. Encourage your child to write a list of things to buy. This list could be made up of words he tries to spell, or even drawings of things he can’t spell. There’s no need to seek perfection or be worried about his spelling just yet – giving him the confidence to be involved while showcasing his new skills has a huge impact on him.

At the supermarket, you can play word games together. Try asking, “What letter does the word ‘mushroom’ start with?” and take him down the aisle with canned mushrooms for this game of word hunt. Next, level it up by asking him to write it out in the air with his fingers as he reads the words from the labels. You can do this with different words and who knows? With so much room to learn, maybe this will spin further like creating word puns!

5 to 6 years old (Kindergarten):

•    Able to write short simple sentences with appropriate grammar
•    Starts expressing opinions through writing
•    Able to string a simple story by writing using suitable vocabulary
•    Can spell more complex words with better accuracy

At kindy age, it’s common to have spelling tests (for both English and Chinese) within a preschool curriculum in Singapore. Being able to write legibly and spell accurately are some of the must-have skills a Primary One student needs. Hence, you will observe that their writing skills are more developed now.

Parents can encourage their 5- to 6-year-olds to start a simple diary. This can be a gratitude diary for your child to write at bedtime, appreciating their day. Besides the opportunity to share their thoughts, parent-and-child can partake in a heart-to-heart bonding session while conversing about what they are grateful for. This way, children are also developing their vocabulary and grammar skills, which are essential for writing too.

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Exposure to literacy-based programmes in preschool supports writing skills development

In addition to a bilingual core programme, our literacy-based specialised programmes are integrated into our Little Footprint Preschool curriculum in Singapore. This starts with children at playgroup level and throughout their early years journey.

To support children’s writing development across ages, our educators work with children to journal their thoughts on the books they bring home to read through the Bond ‘thru’ Reading programme.

During their daily English and Chinese lessons, preschool children are exposed to a myriad of writing-based activities as they undergo preparation for Primary One.

Find out how Little Footprints Preschool’s curriculum prepares children for the school years ahead. Book a centre tour to learn more.


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