All rights reserved. © Copyright Teach Children Ltd  |  Sitemap |  Contact Us |  Disclaimer | About Us | Facebook | Twitter

Teach Handwriting
Blog About Us Contact Us

Parents’ guide to handwriting for 1 - 3 year olds

Children in this age group are developing many of the physical skills and vocabulary that they will need for learning to handwrite through play and other everyday activities.

Young children learn many of the pre-handwriting directional pushes, pulls and changes in direction on a much larger scale, long before they pick up a pencil, through playing with cars or pretending to cook. These movements become the drawings/scribbles which young children form once they start mark making, initially as big uncontrolled movements then becoming more controlled and smaller as their gross and fine motor skills develop.

Their first experience on the handwriting route involves mark making and simple drawings, whether it is with finger paints, writing in sand or with pencils and crayons. From about the age of 2, children start to move from a simple grasping (primitive) grip to one that secures the writing tool between the fingers and the thumb. In the early stages of writing young children will try different holds, which is part of their normal grip development for handwriting and drawing.

Remember children develop at different times so the table below is a guideline only, based on the average expected achievement levels for a child in this age group.

Handwriting skills

 1 - 2 year olds

2 - 3 year olds

Dominant writing hand

No preference

Starting to develop

Pencil grip stage

Stage 1

Stages 1 to 2

Sitting in chair correctly

Sitting for meals

Sitting for tasks

Mark making


Scribbles imitate strokes

Pre-handwriting patterns

Not applicable

Non-pencil activities

Single letter formation

Not applicable

Not applicable

Position paper correctly

Prefers vertical surfaces

Prefers vertical surface

Learning to sit correctly

To sit correctly in a chair for a period of time children need to develop their gross motor skills. Our games and activities help to build this strength.

What stage pencil grip does your child use?

Children should develop naturally through distinct pencil grip stages and should not be forced to use a stage they are not ready for as this can result in them developing a poor pencil grip later.

Supporting your child’s handwriting

Expected handwriting achievement levels

How your child develops their hand dominance

Hand dominance is a natural developmental process which happens in stages.

The first tools used for mark making

Children, due to their natural physical development, initially prefer to use thicker tools, such as chalk, paint brushes and crayons etc, for mark making and simple drawings and to do so on vertical surfaces.

Learning through play and other non-pencil activities

This age group develop many of the physical skills and vocabulary that they will need for learning to handwrite through play.