Pre-writing skills aren’t always explicit.

By Sylvia Arotin

‘My child only scribbles’

‘My child is so active’

‘My child won’t sit and complete focused activities’.

Sound familiar to anyone?

First off- you’re not alone.

Second- there is nothing ‘wrong’ with your child


Explore the fundamentals of Montessori parenting with this free video by Sylvia Arotin, offering insights and strategies to empower and educate your child.

Most parents I chat with get more and more anxious about their child’s ‘inability’ to sit and complete an activity the closer they get to school age. The closer their children get to four, the more they worry about their child’s ability or inability to write. It is easy to look for activities and see calm, focused work and expect that from your child. PLEASE DON’T. Before writing children have to develop their pre-writing skills. Pre-writing skills are the fundamental skills children need to develop before they are able to write. These skills are necessary for them to be able to hold and use a pencil and then draw, write, copy, and colour. Remember it is not a linear process and they may all be happening at the same time.

Most 3-year-olds are incredibly active, love the outdoors and even those that do complete ‘focused’ work need that time outside. Pre-writing skills, as well as writing skills, are not always explicit. Children do not learn best through worksheets. I have put some photos together of what writing can look like when they are not holding a pen. All of these gross motor skills (jumping, running, balancing, water transferring etc) are all a CRUCIAL part of writing and most likely an inherent part of your child’s play.

I hope that seeing these photos of balancing, climbing, running, kicking balls, pulling on ropes, twisting bottle lids, doing up buckles, zipping coats, putting on shoes, pavement drawing, sliding down slides, playing with play dough, wringing out clothes, walking along masking tape, stick marking in the dirt, digging dirt holes, posting sticks, climbing trees, bouncing on trees, picking up worms, hammering with real tools, opening packs of dunkers can reassure you. All these things are an integral part of improving grasp, strengthening handgrip, improving fine motor and gross motor skills all leading to the eventual skill of writing. Just because your kid isn’t sitting down and drawing does not mean they aren’t learning. Try and get down with them in the dirt. You’ll have fun- I promise.

Just playing is never JUST that. It is so much more.

Ultimately remember EVERY child is DIFFERENT and EVERY child changes constantly because they are HUMAN. You may have this expectation of what your child should be like and what they should be achieving and it is difficult to let that go BUT- your child is not you. They are them. Follow their lead.

A huge thank you to our friend Jennie Otter from for this incredibly insightful and humbling blog!

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