This is my most widely shared article. And rightly so, it’s an important one.
These are “prewriting patterns”, with the average (but not prescribed) age at which children are developmentally ready to achieve these patterns listed below them in years and months. Being able to process visual information and produce a movement in response (e.g. copying these prewriting patterns or letter formations), is known as “visual motor integration”. ⠀
Note that an X is not typically achieved until 4 years 11 months, and a triangle at 5 years 3 months. If a child can’t form these basic shapes...then they probably won’t be able to form letters. ⠀
It is quite concerning then that there are 3 year 7 month olds starting formal schooling, where they’re expected to write. Not only are their visual motor integration skills not developed enough, their hands are also physically under-developed. In addition, recognising letters, understanding phonics and beginning to read are all needed in order for a child to write meaningfully, skills which children starting kindy typically don’t have. We also know that when a child learns something that doesn’t hold meaning, it‘s unlikely to stick. ⠀
So if you have a 3-4 year old who spontaneously asks or attempts to write letters, that’s great; otherwise, there is no need to initiate or worry about this. Unfortunately there is a misconception, particularly with the way that the current curriculum stands, that earlier is better. Earlier is not always better.⠀ ⠀
Source: Beery Buktenica Test of Visual Motor Integration, 6th Edition