What should a child aged 3 to 4 years be able to do?


Does your 3 to 4 year old child’s handwriting look like this sample?

In the Early Year Foundation Stages, this is what teachers are expecting to see in 3 to 4 year old handwriting…children who are attempting to write their name and words.

At nursery, there is no set handwriting practice time!

This is exactly what your child needs, time to draw and learn how to move a pencil. At this age, it is more important that they learn how to make marks on the paper and that they find this enjoyable. For some, they will be cognitively ready to try writing words and for others writing their name is a big achievement.

3 to 4 year old handwriting sample

This is what they should be doing by now

3 to 4 year old handwriting should be about pencil control

During the nursery years or even earlier, your child will have started to establish a preferred hand dominance. This is when they chose the same hand to hold a pencil, to pick up a spoon and to reach for a drink. This is an important skill to master, as without it a child cannot easily progress to writing letters.

How a child holds their pencil also changes. Hypermobility exercisesTheir pencil grasp will move from a brush stroke to a three-fingered grasp. This is when their fingers were at the top of the pencil and are now around the pencil nib. This grip is also called a static tripod grip. It is called static because a child would not be expected to move just their fingers to draw. They will be using their whole arm to draw. They will also start to learn how to colour between 2 lines and draw a basic person when asked.

By the age of 4, a child should start to be able to copy a circle and a cross shape. They could also be ready to copy the letters V, H and T.

Handwriting skills by now

  • Enjoy Mark Making. Finds it fun to draw a picture.
  • Uses One Hand. Has a preferred hand dominance and doesn't swap hands during drawing activities.
  • Controls The Pencil. Making some vertical and round marks on the paper that are clear and without wobbles.
  • Tracks A Pencil Line. Able to keep a pencil between a 1cm line space.
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