A pair of child's hands hold a pencil while writing on a piece of paper at a desk covered in school supplies

See if Your Child is on Track with This Kindergarten Writing Skills Checklist

Kindergarten is a time of rapid development and academic progress. From reading simple words to executing life-skills, like packing up their backpack and cleaning their desk, you’ll be blown away by how much your child has grown in a single year. Writing will be no exception. Although children develop at different rates, it’s useful to have an idea of the basic writing expectations your little one should have met so they can go into 1st grade fully equipped to have another great year!

Look at the skills below to see if your kindergartener is meeting expectations. If they’re not, don’t panic! A little extra one on one practice each day should get them on track in no time.

  1. Print their first and last name — This is often the first thing a child learns how to spell and is something they’re eager to do. Let them use fun supplies like markers and finger paints to write their name on posters and decorate their room!
  2. Print the upper and lower case of each letter — Your child will get plenty of practice doing this in kindergarten. Get simple, fun workbooks to reinforce these skills at home, on a long trip, or waiting for your food at a restaurant.
  3. Draw a picture and write a sentence about it — A kindergarten “essay” consists of an illustration, (in response to a prompt,) and a single sentence describing the picture. To practice, have them make cards for loved ones or encourage them to add a little caption to all the lovely pictures they draw at home.
  4. Begin each sentence with a capital letter — This will become automatic with constant, gentle reminders.
  5. End each sentence with period — Children learn the three basic punctuations in kindergarten: period, question mark, and exclamation point. Remind them to use the proper punctuation by asking them things like, “Are you asking something?” or “Are they shouting that?”
  6. Spell simple words — After solidifying their letter sounds, kindergarteners learn how to start spelling out those simple CVC words, like “hat” and “pig”. Let them identify each sound at a time and write down the corresponding letter.
  7. Spell harder words with “inventive spelling” — Inventive spelling is the practice of using incorrect spelling to write harder words in the early stages of literacy. An example would be spelling purple as “prpul”. It’s perfectly fine at this age as it encourages using their phonemic awareness to “sound it out”.
  8. Write on the line — Children should be using the lines on a paper to guide their writing. This is another skill that can be easily reinforced with a little practice in a simple workbook each day.
  9. Use spaces in between words — Encourage your child to use a “finger space” between each word. After writing a word, have them place a finger down right behind it and start the new word after their finger.

Children develop at their own rate and there’s no reason to panic if they aren’t doing all of these things perfectly by the end of kindergarten. Practice makes perfect; consistent and gentle exercises for a few minutes each day is often enough to get these skills solidified in due time.