Drawing, scribbling and writing: why it’s good for children
Drawing and scribbling lay the foundations for handwriting. Handwriting starts with scribbling and drawing and then moves on to forming letters and words.
You can encourage your child to develop an interest in handwriting by giving them plenty of opportunities to draw, scribble and write. This prepares your child for the formal handwriting they’ll learn at school.
Handwriting is a complex skill that takes time to learn. To learn handwriting, children need to combine fine motor skills, language, memory and concentration. They also need to practise and follow instructions.
What you need for drawing, scribbling and writing with your child
Set up your child at a table with some chunky crayons, chalk, pencils or markers, as well as some paper or card.
It’s best for your child to draw and write sitting at a table. The stable, flat surface can make it easier for your child to draw, and it also encourages your child to hold the crayon or pencil correctly. You can also put a cushion on your child’s chair so that your child’s elbows are just above the height of the table.
How to do drawing, scribbling and writing activities with your child
Give your child plenty of opportunities to draw and write. This helps your child develop the skills needed for handwriting.
Here are some ideas:
- Have drawing materials handy so that your child can draw and scribble any time. You can even take materials with you when you go out.
- Let your child decide what to draw or write. Any practice your child gets holding a crayon or pencil and drawing pictures, lines or circles can help with learning to write.
- Talk with your child about their drawing or writing – for example, ‘Tell me about your picture’. Praise your child’s efforts, even if their ‘writing’ or ‘drawing’ is more like scribble – for example, ‘Well done! That looks like an ‘M’ and a ‘W’. Great writing’.
- Encourage your child to sign their work, even if it’s just the first letter of their name or a scribble. Then write your child’s name underneath so they get used to seeing it.
- Display your child’s work. For example, put it on the fridge and point it out to people who visit.
Adapting these activities for children of different ages or children with diverse abilities
Make sure your younger child has thick chunky crayons to draw with until your child develops the finger and thumb grip needed to hold a thin pencil.
Help your older child to write words to go with a drawing. Your child might want to write a story or write people’s names underneath their pictures. If your child is just learning to write, you could also ask whether your child wants to write a letter or help you write the shopping list.
All children learn and develop through play. Our articles on play and autistic children and play and children with disability are great starting points for adapting this activity guide for children with diverse abilities. You might also like to explore our activity guides for children with diverse abilities.