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  • Writer's pictureDr. V.S. Gayathri

Why Are Pre-writing Skills Important?

What Are Pre-Writing Skills?

Pre-writing skills are the basic fine motor skills that a child needs to develop before they start writing. It helps a child to build finger strength, and improve eye-hand coordination, wrist movement, and grip strength. It aids them to gradually hold and use a pencil or any writing tool to draw, write, color and in general, express themselves.

In simple words, pre-writing skills refer to the lines and stroke patterns kids need to master BEFORE learning how to write the alphabet.

Why are pre-writing skills important?

· Pre-writing skills are essential for a child to develop the ability to hold and move a pencil or any writing accessory easily and write in a legible manner. It is like warming up before doing exercises.

· Pre-writing skills are like prepping activities to gradually prepare your child to write. If you skip this step, your child's fingers will feel unsteady, they will not be able to grip a writing tool for too long, their writing will not be clear and most of all, they will feel very frustrated. Writing will feel like a chore and not as a means to express themselves.

What is the Pre-writing developmental sequence?

· Vertical Line – (Age 2 imitates, age 3 copies/masters)

· Horizontal Line – (Age 2 1/2 imitates, age 3 copies/masters)

· Circle Shape – (Age 2 1/2 imitates, 3 copies/masters)

· Cross Shape (+) – (Age 3 1/2 imitates, age 4 copies)

· Square Shape – (Age 4)

· Right/Left Diagonal Line – (Age 4 1/2)

· X Shape – (Age 5)

· Triangle (Age 5)

It is important to understand that it is absolutely fine if your child needs more time with a certain prewriting milestone. Every child is unique and they develop at their own pace. Give your child enough time and encouragement to cross these milestones. Don’t try to push them or nag them if they are not able to keep pace.


In order for the fine motor movements needed for handwriting to develop, a child needs to have a solid base of support, which means strong gross motor skills and movements.

· A strong core to help them sit upright

· A strong neck in order to keep the head upright

· Strong shoulders in order to facilitate arm and wrist movements

· Strong fingers in order to grasp objects

A great way to make sure your child has a solid core and neck is to encourage floor exploration and “tummy time” with your baby. As a baby begins to explore the world around them through rolling, crawling, and standing, they are building those strong core muscles for future fine motor tasks.

“The more hours that babies spent flat on their backs, the more likely they were to have head flattening. Even 5 minutes a day of tummy time had a protective effect.” (

Some activities to build strong core muscles for pre-writing activities:

These fun activities can help improve the core muscle strength of your toddlers and pre-schoolers:

– Crawling through tunnels

– Jumping on a trampoline

– Swimming

– Climbing a rock wall

– Playing on the playground

– Yoga for kids

What are the signs that my child is not developmentally ready to write?

Here are some of the signs to indicate that your child is not writing-ready;

  • They are unable to grasp a pencil or grasp it awkwardly.

  • They find it difficult to control a pencil and use it for coloring, drawing, or writing.

  • They apply too much or very little pressure on the pencil while writing on paper.

  • They are unable to maintain hand-eye coordination.

  • Their writing is unsteady and not legible

  • They feel very frustrated and upset when asked to write

If you notice your child struggling with certain parts of their handwriting skills, it might be a good idea to go back to the core strength and work on gross motor skills which are needed to promote good pre-writing and handwriting skills.

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