With formal schooling beginning at earlier and earlier ages, many parents worry about their child’s ability to keep up with the curriculum.  

But good news for parents, it’s all normal! A children’s occupational therapy center in Australia is trying to calm these fears by showing what true pre-writing skills look like, beginning at just under age 3 through just past age 5.

Courtesy of Perth Children’s Occupational Therapy

The Perth Children’s Occupational Therapy Center has over 14,000 shares of this graphic, showing the basic shapes a child can replicate at certain ages.  They explain, “Being able to process visual information and produce a movement in response (e.g. copying these prewriting patterns or letter formations), is known as ‘visual motor integration’.”

Despite shapes like a cross being able to typically be formed at just past 4 years old and an X at nearly 5 years old, many parents are concerned that children are unable to write their names at beginning preschool ages (usually around 3 or 3.5 years old).  

According to the center, “It is quite concerning then that there are 3 year 7 month olds starting formal schooling, where they’re expected to write. Not only are their visual motor integration skills not developed enough, their hands are also physically under-developed.”

The center shares that this is perfectly normal, and that it typically is the curriculum that isn’t developmentally appropriate.  As well, these prewriting patterns and ages they share are merely an average age where a child may be able to draw or write that pattern, not necessarily a developmental goal.

So enjoy where your child is at!  Provide art supplies and opportunities to scribble and color and paint, but don’t worry about the actual finished product.  The center suggests, “If you have a 3-4 year old who spontaneously asks or attempts to write letters, that’s great; otherwise, there is no need to initiate or worry about this.”

Take a look at these preschool rectangle worksheets!

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