4 Tips to Teach your Toddler how-to Write his Name


March 11, 2013 by CassieCravings

Over the past few months, I have had several friends and family ask me how I was able to teach my 2 year-old son how to write his letters. Here are 4 tips that help me to guide my son in mastering writing his name:

1. Model it. 

Modeling is key in teaching.

Writing has always been a big part of my life. I am forever scribbling in journals and furiously clacking away in front of a computer screen. Whether it has been for research or for fun, little Eli has observed this. He was very small when he first asked for “work”. I set up a desk for him, and he happily experimented with lines, shapes and color.

The more I would write, the more he desired to do the same.


2. Saturate your environment.

If you are focusing on letters, writing, phonics, sight reading or any other academic concept, saturate your environment. Use Play-Doh to shape words. Write in shaving cream. Cover the sidewalk in chalk drawn letters. Download some apps.

One of my very favorite apps for reading is “Endless Alphabet”. It’s a free app that explores the shapes of letters through puzzles and the sounds they make through silly noises. My son adores this app and is starting to sight read many of the words. His favorites are “odor” and “multiply”.

Don’t limit yourself to learning at home. Street signs, restaurants, grocery stores are inundated with eye-catching signs ready for reading. Being able to recognize letters is a huge step in being able to recall the letters to write.

3. Let him take the lead. 

I followed unschooling philosophies through the process of teaching my toddler to write. Children are natural learners. They are naturally inquisitive and naturally hands-on. With writing, as with other concepts, I introduced the idea of writing. It was introduced through the above methods. Then I stepped back. I waited for his reaction. Soon he was asking me to show him different letters and to help him write. We continued to learn through play and through exposure from real world examples (i.e. the grocery store) and through reading together. He practiced on his Leap Pad 2. As I have let him take the lead, I am continually surprised at how quickly he is learning to write different letters. I am not sure how many he is up to now, easily half of the alphabet.

"Count 'dem, Mama!"

4. Drop the comparisons 

As a teacher and a highly competitive person, I have a tendency to get comparative. It’s easy to say to another mama, “How many letters can your toddler write?” and to get self-righteous or self-loathing as comparisons are made. The truth is: It doesn’t matter if your toddler can write every letter of the alphabet or not any at all.

A passion for learning should be the academic goal of parents for their children. If your little one loves to learn, then he/she will seek it out. However, if the learning environment is anxiety based, then he/she will withdraw.

My greatest hang-up when I am teaching my own child is pushing my timeline on him.

Learning is fun; treat it as such. And it won’t be long before your little one begins to flourish as reader and writer.


38 thoughts on “4 Tips to Teach your Toddler how-to Write his Name

  1. I absolutely LOVE this. My son will be 2 in June, and already recognizes and can recite all the letters (capital and lowercase), and what sounds they make. He likes to make “notes” like mom and dad, but I’ve been looking for ways to get him to start learning to write, rather than just scribbles.

    Oh, and he loves Endless ABC, and there are a few iPad games (Superwhy and Elmo, I think) that promote tracing letters with your fingers. Not quite writing, but an interesting way to introduce children to how letters are formed.

    • mamacravings says:

      I’ll have to check out those iPad games and see if there is an iPhone download for them! Eli’s very favorite digital game in on his LeapPad2. He uses the stylus to trace the letters. He is very meticulous and serious about this game. lol

  2. This is great! I plan to follow unshcooling principles as well. My Eli isn’t really talking much yet but we do love the endless alphabet app and I just expose him to things without putting any pressure on him. I can’t wait until he starts asking questions that will open opportunities for learning for the both of us.

  3. This is so true! You are an excellent teacher. I’m going to try that app with my own son. He has some speech difficulties and things like this tend to work for him. Currently we’re working on letter sounds by matching them with drawings of simple objects. He’s learning his name by tracing over my model with a crayon.
    He’s getting it, he just has difficulty sitting still and focusing..but that’s a whole ‘nother story.

    • mamacravings says:

      Thank you!

      I never do “lessons” or games longer than Eli can sit. I have found that he can get more out of an engaged 5 minutes than a disengaged 20 minutes.

      ABeka curriculum has a great cd that is the alphabet and sounds put into songs. My son LOVES the cd. We play it while he plays in his room. That may help with auditory connections.

      I think your son is going to love the app. Little Eli giggles and giggles over it. 🙂

  4. Meghan says:

    wonderful suggestions, thanks! I can’t give Avery a crayon or marker without him eating it… still working on that…

  5. Mama Carmody says:

    Great tips. I also taught preschool and you are right-on with your information. It is never too early to introduce a concept to your child, just be sure to keep it light-hearted and fun and their natural interest in learning will kick in.

  6. What are your thoughts on Alphabet flash cards?

    • mamacravings says:

      I’m not a big fan of flash-cards or rote memory. It doesn’t stick. For toddler, preschool and kindergarten aged children, focus on playing.

      Those flashcards can be turned into a hopscotch game or a match game. Or they can just be placed around the house in interesting areas for exposure.

      Flashcards can be very effective, but for such a young age, it takes the messy curiosity out of the joy of learning.

  7. OneLIfeLiveIt says:

    Hello, i just came across your blog. Wonderful ideas! =D. By the way, how do you train Eli to hold the pencil or crayon? right now, my Daugther just grab and scribble everywhere.. but the way she holds the crayon is obviously wrong. =P

  8. Jennifer Butler Basile says:

    Great user-friendly tips. Thanks for the alphabet app. My daughter needs some new educational apps!

  9. Johnc954 says:

    I’m not sure exactly why but this weblog is loading very slow for me. Is anyone else having this problem or is it a problem on my end? I’ll check back later and see if the problem still exists. badedfddbkfk

  10. authormandycarroll says:

    I taught all four of my sons to read between 3 and 4….so I know this is way possible….

  11. dohigh says:

    Wow! I haven’t even thought about letters, and writing. Numbers are fine. Up and down, backward, forward, you name it. When we have the crayons, paints or pens out I have let my 2yo explore his own creativity. I will have to teach him to write his name!

  12. I particularly like the comparisons bit and just wanted to agree, it’s really true that you don’t need to get bogged down in helping a Toddler do something they’re not interested in. Mine certainly didn’t pick up a pen before he was three, to colour, write or anything else; it’s something he hasn’t shown an interest in. But if he’s anything like sister, as soon as he’s interested we’ll be doing most of the things you suggest and we find that embracing the developmental stage they’re ready for when they’re ready for it has served us well (his big sister is top of her class in speaking, reading and writing but wasn’t interested in writing at two).

    • mamacravings says:

      Absolutely! So much of learning is development and interest. And that’s how it should be. He happened to be interested at 2. Now at 6, his fine motor skills are a bit behind. And that’s okay. He will catch up or he will work to the best of his ability.

  13. Janelle says:

    I Love endless alphabet! I have to admit I get caught up in the comparisons not with other kids..but between my own kids (9,3,2)… especially the youngest 2 who are boys! GREAT POST! I’ll be incorporating these in our daily routine.

    • mamacravings says:

      I completely understand. I think it’s natural for us to compare a bit. We want to make sure our kid is “on track”, but they all develop at such different rates. The norm to one may be completely abnormal to the development of another child. Thank you so much! I hope you enjoy 🙂

  14. Great tips..! will be more helpful for parents and teachers.
    Thank you.

  15. Thanks so much for the like and keep being an inspiration to all those Moms.

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