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Writing Skills in Children


What are writing skills?

Writing skills are your child's ability to express thoughts and ideas in writing. Your child will begin by scribbling or drawing simple shapes. He will then start to write letters. When he understands how to combine and break apart letters to form words, he is developing writing skills. Your child needs strong writing skills to be successful throughout school.

How may my child's writing skills develop through grade 3?

Children learn to write by drawing and scribbling first. This happens during the toddler years. Your child may start by copying shapes, such as circles. He may enjoy making marks or scribbles and asking you what he wrote. This shows that he is developing an understanding of how writing works. By the time he is ready for preschool, he will be making letters instead of scribbles. In school, he will learn to put letters together to form words. Each grade from kindergarten through grade 3 will help your child learn new writing skills:

  • Kindergarten skills include learning to break down words based on their sounds. This is called phonics. He may be able to use phonics to spell and write some words. He may also be able to write his first and last name and names of people he knows.
  • First grade skills include learning how words represent spoken language. He may know where sentences and paragraphs begin and end. He may know the difference between punctuation marks, such as a period and a question mark. He may be able to count syllables in a word, and put together and break apart sounds in 1-syllable words. He may also start to know the spelling of some irregular words, such as said .
  • Second grade skills include increasing vocabulary and spelling skills. He will learn to spell words that have unusual spellings. He may learn suffixes and prefixes. He may also learn synonyms (words with the same meaning) and antonyms (words with opposite meanings). He may learn the parts of speech. Your child's teacher will begin to have each child read aloud in class. By the end of second grade, your child should be able read words that have more than 2 syllables. Other skills include being able to recall information he read and making connections among different words. He should also be able to use capital letters and punctuation correctly.
  • Third grade skills include fluency. Fluency means reading and writing with speed and accuracy. Your child may learn how to use a dictionary. He will learn to write for different purposes and readers, and how to revise his writing. He will build on these skills in grades 4 through 12. By the end of third grade, your child will be starting adolescence. He will have more complex writing assignments in school. Ask your child's healthcare provider for more information on writing skills in adolescents.

What can I do to help my child develop strong writing skills?

  • Help your child prepare for school. Help him learn the alphabet before he starts kindergarten. He will have an easier time learning to read and write if he can say the alphabet and recognize letters. Help him practice saying words that start with each letter.
  • Practice with your child. Reading and writing skills develop together. Read aloud to your child. Have your older child read aloud to you. Point to the words as you read them. This will help him become comfortable with printed words. Ask your child to tell you how to spell words he hears, such as cat . Have him tell you other words that begin with that letter. He may be able to write stories about people he knows or activities he did. Ask your child to read what he wrote aloud. This will help with connections between reading and writing. Give your child opportunities to write, such as letters to family members or grocery list items.
    Read with Your Child
  • Help your child build and practice vocabulary. Vocabulary includes all the words your child can understand, read, spell, and write. Your child will learn words directly from teachers or others who tell him the meanings of words. He will also learn words indirectly by hearing and seeing them in his environment every day.
  • Be patient and stay positive. Do not correct your child as he reads or writes. Give him time to find and correct his own mistake. If you do need to point out a mistake, try not to be frustrated or angry. Your child may have more trouble writing if he feels he is going to be punished for a mistake. Praise him when he writes.
  • Ask if your child's school has support resources. Your child may have trouble with writing and need extra help even if he does not have a learning disability. His school may offer support programs or other resources. He may be able to work with a learning specialist. The specialist can help him build on skills he has or develop new skills.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your child's care. Learn about your child's health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your child's healthcare providers to decide what care you want for your child. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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