Being able to write or draw is a huge accomplishment for your little one! Like all aspects of development these skills are acquired in a gradual process that involves more advanced and complex skills each time. From the moment your baby is born, they start to work on their finger and hand movements that, later on, will allow them to hold a crayon and scribble. From this point, there are several stages that they’ll go through while practicing their writing and drawing.

Random Scribbling
Starting at about 16 months, your child will begin to scribble in a random way. They will start to realize that their arm movements create the lines they see on the page. At this point they’ll be able to hold the crayon with their whole fist and their scribbles will be produced with large arm movements (originated from the shoulder).

Controlled Scribbling
As they develop more control over their hand and finger muscles, they’ll begin to make more controlled lines and scribbles. You might see that they repeat the same lines (vertical, horizontal, diagonal, etc.) over and over again, practicing.

Lines and patterns
Then, your little one will take a huge step: understand that what they draw can have a meaning! They’ll recognize the components that make up writing: lines, curves, and patterns. Even though they won’t be able to write actual letters, they’ll try to imitate the patterns. They might “write” something down and then explain what it means.

Anticipating the drawing
Later on, your little one will develop the cognitive ability to hold images in their mind, that is symbolic thinking. So, if they used to create random works of art and name them only after finishing them, now they’ll be able to plan what they want to draw! They’ll demonstrate even more control and detail when handling crayons, and will love to use different colors. They’ll also begin to differentiate between pictures and words. You’ll see this when they draw a dog, for example, and then “writes” its name below.

Experimenting with letters and words
Now that they’ve had practice, they’ll start trying out different letters and words, most likely the letters from their own name. Plus, they’ll start to understand that some words have a longer line of symbols (letters) than others. So maybe you’ll see that they scribble in a way that simulates short and long words.

To learn more about this topic and ways to encourage your little one’s writing skills visit this article: Learning to Write and Draw