The right age to hold a pencil/crayon to write

by Vasanti Jirge

What is the right age for children to start learning to write/hold a pencil or crayon? Someone once told me that children's fingers are not developed enough to hold pencils/pens and write until the age of 5 years. Is that true?

Over here in India I've seen many nursery schools (for ages 2-4 years)make children learn writing with crayons and color big pictures and also expect the colors to stay withing the outlines. It was shocking at first when I saw my daughter being given all that to do, but we had to comply with the school's curriculum. I changed her school to a different one which is a little light on writing work.

A lot of schools here put too much burden on children and parents are to blame because they want trophy children which is why they send them to kindergarten schools from the age of 2 years!

This is a great website with a lot of useful information. The playdoh exercises that you have shared with everyone is a very old practice in Indian villages and towns where mothers gave their toddlers real dough to play with to develop their fingers.

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the right age...
by: OT Mom

Good question, and your comments about trophy children are spot-on!

Little kids are always going to try and copy their parents/older siblings, so there is little we can do to stop them from grabbing a pencil or crayon to scribble at an early age. However I think there are 3 important things to keep in mind:

1) Let their pencil grip develop naturally as their gross and fine motor skills develop (in other words, don’t correct their immature pencil grasp to mirror that of an adult). See pencil grasp development for more details.

2) Don’t let coloring and drawing be their only fine motor tasks – little kids should be exposed to a range of activities that will strengthen little hands and improve dexterity - playdough, scissor cutting, beading, making collages, sand play...

3) I strongly discourage writing at an early age, because it takes away the opportunity to be laying a strong foundation of gross and fine motor skills. Definitely not before the age of 5! Keen learners can practice letters and words by writing in sand or on a blackboard, rather than at a desk with paper and pencil. I know many will disagree with me, so this is just my opinion!

Hope this clarifies things!

PS thanks for the fascinating fact about bread dough being used in Indian villages for the same purpose as our modern playdough!

by: Anonymous

"No Child Left Behind Legislature" in the U.S. is putting pressure on schools and parents to have children engage in tasks that are developmentally incorrect. Children are being pressured by parents to know their letters and numbers at 2 or 3 and trace letters but they don't potty train their children until they are 4, What a mixed message that is.
I do not think children should be writing until the age of 5-5..5. The later the more successful the children will be to write. The more successful they are the more interested they will be come. I am a special educator teaching delayed 2-3-4 year olds and the pressure is ridiculous for these children to perform. All this pressure is going to cause emotional damage that will be a problem later in their lives.Stop rushing these kids and enjoy them.

Which crayon is best? Small or fat
by: Anonymous

Which crayon is best to practice pencil grip at age 3?fat or skinny crayons

when is the right age to teach a child writing
by: Anonymous

i personaly think that children should start learning to write at the age of 2,the earlier the better lets give them an oppotunity we have never had.

fat or skinny crayons?
by: OT Mom

I definitely recommend the fat ones.

I use fat crayons, pencils and felt-tips for all the kids struggling with fine motor skills.
Even older kids can benefit from using fat crayons if their fine motor skills are poor.

For yourself try manipulating a thick darning needle and compare that to working with a thin, small sewing needle - this gives you a "feel" of what it feels like for kiddies when they have to use a thin pencil when they are not ready for it.

It is really tiring and then they don't concentrate on what they are drawing/writing as all their energy goes into holding the crayon.

starting too early
by: OT Mom

Dear Anonymous Mom
I agree that is fantastic to give our kids the things that we never had - but not everything we have is good for them at an early age.

Technology is wonderful, and kids love computers, tv games, and movies, but letting them have too much, or too early in their lives will preclude the learning of other, more vital, life skills.

I feel the same way about letting kids read and write before they are ready. There are a few baby geniuses out there, but most of our kids need to develop and grow their gross and fine motor skills in a developmentally appropriate way.

Let them experiment with crayons and paper with no pressure, as a small part of a larger exposure to all sorts of developmentally appropriate activities - like finger painting, playdough, sand play, water play, building blocks, scissor cutting, construction toys, dolls, and so on. Let them master the drawing of simple shapes before moving onto letters and numbers.

These things all develop the brain as a whole instead of letting writing/reading skills develop at the expense of other, vital, skills.

Thanks for posting!

i like it
by: manori

your ideas are very good.i think if i follow them,my 2 and half child will study very soon,

Holding a pencil
by: Anonymous

My grandson is 5 and in VPK. He is ahead on everything except printing...he does not grasp his pencil very well. Nothing is physically wrong with him and he is quite good in other areas of "handiwork" , if I may use that phrase. His sweet teacher has been encouraging him to try and under her care, he is beginning to write his name. We practice at home also. He is going to do just fine, but until I read these comments, I was beginning to get worried. Thanks to all for for your wise input!

The right age to hold a pen/pencil / crayon
by: Angie Yamomy

My yadaughter is 16 months old, she holds pens, crayons and pencils and writes on paper .....which no problem,my daughter in law started giving her writing utensils early, it started at church she gave her a church bulletin and a pen to keep her busy....this turned into a daily routine now my yadaughter really enjoys writing , coloring (scribbling) activities!!

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