Teaching a toddler to write their first name

First Writing: How to Teach Toddlers to Write Their Name

For young children, learning to write their name is a big accomplishment. It’s usually a toddler’s very first writing achievement! There are several strategies to ensure that your toddler learns to write their name correctly.

Ready to lead your child on a path of reading and writing success? Here’s how to teach a toddler to write their name!


What age should a child start writing?

Child development is unique. Some toddlers first write their names by age 3, but this is rare. Children as young as 3.5-4 years old may begin writing their names, but they will learn to write letters when they join Reception at primary school.

Pre-writing skills start from 12 to 18 months with scribbling and a fist grip. By the age of 3-4, children should be able to reproduce vertical and horizontal lines, as well as circles, without needing to copy. Around 3.5-4 years old, a child can start copying simple, familiar letters like those in their name.

Having said that, every child is unique in regards to learning to write. Never push your child; always softly encourage, and observe.


How to introduce handwriting with drawing

Toddler using drawing to begin handwriting

Drawing is a creative way to teach your toddler how to write their name. Handwriting progresses from scribbling and drawing to producing letters and words. Give your child plenty of opportunities to draw, sketch, and write. This helps your child prepare for formal handwriting lessons in school.

Learning to control a pen or pencil requires fine motor abilities that are improved by colouring. Allow your child to doodle and draw whenever possible. Hands-on practice with thick crayons or pens will help your child develop hand and arm stability.


Encourage your child to draw and write. Here are some ideas:

  • Allow your child to draw and scribble whenever they want. You can even take materials with you when you go out.
  • Let your child decide what to draw or write. Any practice your child gets holding a crayon or pencil and drawing pictures, lines or circles can help with learning to write.
  • Talk with your child about their drawing or writing – for example, ‘Tell me about your picture.’ Praise your child’s efforts, even if their ‘writing’ or ‘drawing’ is a scribble. “That’s an M and a W. Great work.”
  • Whether it’s a doodle or the first letter of their name, encourage your child to sign their work. Then write your child’s name underneath to familiarise them.
  • Display your child’s work. For example, put it on the fridge and point it out to people who visit.


How to teach your toddler to write their name

Teaching a toddler to write their name

  • Trace dotted lines

Before your child learns to write their name, they need to have some basic motor skills to write letters. Help them develop this by tracing over the dotted lines that create their name. 

This will help children develop motor skills while learning letter formation.


  • Display their name on posters and labels

Help your child become accustomed to seeing their name printed. Label their lunchboxes, toy boxes, and books, and hang posters with their names in both capital and lowercase.


  • Have fun with letter formation

Most children like learning in a multisensory, hands-on way. Learning to make their name’s letters doesn’t always require a pencil and paper. Experiment with clay, paints, and even candies or dried fruit to form letters. Write letters in the sand with a stick or write letters on the fogged-up bathroom mirror!


  • Correct pencil grip

Teach your child adequate pencil grip early on to promote good handwriting abilities. If they start learning to write with a bad grasp, they may be frustrated when pushed to change their habit in school.

A pencil is best held with the thumb, index, and middle fingers. This is called the ‘tripod grasp’. This grip ensures smooth movement and stability of the hand.


  • Praise early writing attempts

Encourage your child’s early writing attempts by hanging their scribbles on the wall. This will boost their confidence and inspire them to develop!


  • Make a name puzzle

Before learning to write their name, your child must first recognise each letter and place them in the correct order. A computer or tablet can also be used.

Then have them arrange the letters in the correct order on a separate sheet of paper.


  • Begin with capital letters.

Capital letters are frequently the first letters learned. They are easy to detect, memorise, and copy. Introduce lowercase letters once they’ve mastered this.

Remember that most toddlers lack the fine motor skills required to write lowercase letters, so pressuring them to do so might be discouraging.


  • Give vocal directions

Encourage your child to write their name and avoid being critical. Learning to write letters takes practice and lots of positive reinforcement. Show them how to write before they try it themselves. 

For example, you can say, ‘I start at the top. I make a big curve. Now I make a small line.’


Summary: How to teach your child to write their first name


Learning to write at Maryam’s Nursery

At Maryam’s nursery, we not only teach your toddler how to write their name, but we help your toddler lay the groundwork for writing by helping them with:

  • Physical skills – Gross motor and fine motor development
  • Mark-making – pencils, pens, felt tips, whiteboards, chalk, sponges, brushes, fingers, etc.
  • Hand-eye coordination
  • Access to written words including their names – Name tags, books, labels, seeing adults model their handwriting
  • Extending vocabulary through songs, rhymes, stories, and story scribing
  • Manipulative skills such as playing instruments, scissor skills, playdough, spreading and using cutlery independently


With over two decades of experience, we are fully trained in teaching children literacy skills at Maryam’s Nursery and will structure a bespoke learning and development plan for your little one. 

Learn more about our nursery by downloading a brochure or schedule a virtual consultation to see just how much we can offer your toddler. 

We have an Open Day coming up! Register your interest for our Open Day here.