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Emergent Writing Milestones By the end of two years:

Children will...

  • Scribble spontaneously.
  • Scribble and draw on the same page.
  • Use the terms “writing” and “drawing” interchangeably.
  • Choose different instruments and colors with which to write and draw.

By the end of three years:

Children will...

  • Hold a pencil in the correct position for writing.
  • Make vertical, horizontal, and circular strokes with a pencil or crayon.

By the end of four years:

Children will...

  • Copy simple shapes.
  • Draw a person with 2-4 body parts.
  • Draw circles and squares.
  • Begin to copy some capital letters.

Between the end of the third and the end of the fourth year:

Children will...

  • Experiment with a growing variety of writing tools.
  • Use drawings to stand for writing (usually during dramatic play).
  • Understand the difference between writing and drawing.
  • Assign messages to their writing and drawings.
  • Understand that print carries a message.
  • Begin to understand the left to right directionality.

Between the end of the fourth year and the end of the fifth year:

Children will...

  • Understand that writing is a way of communicating for a variety of purposes.
  • Represent their experiences and stories through drawings and dictation.
  • Copy or write familiar words, such as their own name.

***These milestones are based upon the American Academy of Pediatrics Developmental Milestones.