Babies Can’t Write!: Why “Write” is an Early Literacy Practice

If you’ve ever heard one of our librarians talking about the five early literacy practices of Every Child Ready to Read, and you’ve been confused about why “write” is included in a program geared for babies, toddlers, and preschoolers, this blog post is for you!

Every Child Ready to Read is a program to empower caregivers to be their child’s first and best teacher, and to work on incorporating five practices into daily life *before* their child can read. The practices are read, write, talk, sing, and play! Read, talk, sing, and play are pretty easy to understand…but “write”?

Write is actually a simple way to disguise saying “fine motor skills." Early childhood teachers and librarians want your child to work on developing their finger strength before they arrive at school, so they are able to write! And “write” sounds a lot better when we explain the practices to caregivers instead of talking about “finger isolation” and other jargon-y phrases. So here are twenty ways to practice writing, even with a baby or toddler:

Easy Ways to Practice Writing:
  • Wiggle fingers before going in for a tickle
  • Practice pointing at things as you say their names
  • Grasp and hold toys like rattles
  • Play with baby’s fingers with rhymes and songs like “This Little Piggy”
  • Practice waving “hello” and “goodbye”
  • Help your toddler turn the pages of a book
  • Let toddler self-feed with fingers or utensils
  • Pull out the play dough and let your toddler explore
  • Encourage scribbling and early art play
  • Create sensory bins with rice and/or pasta
  • Use blocks and LEGO Duplo to build with
  • Let your preschooler practice with safety scissors
  • Sing songs like “Where is Thumbkin?” that challenge your child to move each finger individually
  • Play with letter magnets
  • Model writing in everyday life, like when you make a grocery list
  • Help your child trace lines with their pointer finger
  • Encourage your child to play with a variety of different toys
  • Display your child’s artwork at home
  • Paint with water on the sidewalk or draw with chalk
  • Come to the Library for storytime and play with shakers, scarves, and more manipulatives to build those fine motor skills!