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How should we teach my preschooler to write?
Q: My 3-½-year-old does not go to preschool. She has an incredible vocabulary, can count to 10 and say her ABCs. We have just started trying to write letters and she seems to give up before we have even begun. I have always tried not to push my daughter, but maybe that’s just what I’m doing. Should I have sent her to preschool instead of trying to be the person to teach her these skills?
A: I would say you are trying to push too much; that’s what she’s telling you when she refuses to let you try to teach her how to write letters. Your little girl is obviously bright and a good learner, but rare indeed does one find a 3-year-old with the muscular skill and control to handle printing or writing. She could well benefit from a good preschool, but her teachers would certainly not try to teach her to write at her age.

The best way for her to improve her eye-hand coordination—a necessary development before a child can write—is to have plenty of opportunities to play with small toys such as blocks, dolls, housekeeping toys and puzzles. Let her do a lot of art (not colouring books, where she has to try to stay inside the lines) — free-hand drawing and colouring, manipulating clay and finger painting... Along with those opportunities, she needs to enjoy books and the printed word. If you read to her daily and let her point to pictures in the book, before long she will be pointing to letters and saying, “What’s that one?” After that, progress will come fast and furious.