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Learning to Write

Your child's friends can all sign their artwork -- meanwhile, yours can't make the first letter of his name. Should you be worried? "Each child develops at his own pace," says Susan Adair, director of quality assurance for Goddard School, a nationwide franchise preschool company. To gently coax your kid in writing:

Let him watch you write often. "He'll see the value of the printed word," Adair says.

Help him develop the fine motor skills to hold a pencil. Play dough, puzzles, and lacing boards all build up finger strength and dexterity.

Provide paper and crayons, markers, or a pencil. When you're waiting outside his brother's karate class, hand him some paper and a marker so he can get a feel for the fundamental tools.

Help him practice basic shapes, such as squares and circles. Then do the letters in his name: Put your hand over his and make them together, with a pencil or with your fingers in sand. Later, make connect-the-dots outlines of those letters and encourage him to trace over them. He'll be writing his moniker in no time (and yours, too!).