After talking with some friends about our children's abilities, some seemed shocked that my almost (and now) 4 year old could not write his name. None of it. Not one stitch. I graduated with a degree in Human Development and Family studies. I know every kid learns at their own pace. Some kids start walking at ten months and others are past the year and a half mark before they do. Fine motor skills are the same. Despite my gut instinct that he'd learn in time, I started to worry that my boy was developmentally delayed. If all his friends his age can write their names and draw pictures of faces and he can't, clearly something is amiss, right? Not necessarily.
I was worried enough that I spoke with my doctor and he recommended someone at the schools to assess my son. It was determined that he was fine. In fact the occupational therapist I spoke with said that learning writing/drawing at a slower pace is actually good for kids.(This is why you shouldn't let what other moms say get to you!) It teaches them to slowly strengthen those muscles used for fine motor skills.She said that she that it is ok for them to not know how to write until they are in kindergarten. At that point they will have had time for their little hands and fingers to develop more fully. So, if you are in the same boat as me what can be done? Well, the same thing that we as parents should be doing with all young kids (whether they can write or not) - let them be kids!
In my schooling and in talking with the occupational therapist, here are some simple suggestions - things you may be already doing. They are meant to be fun, but they all help work those fine motor skills and will assist them later on as they learn to write.
Artsy stuff: coloring with crayons (short broken ones, not long) or chalk on a vertical surface, sidewalk chalk, finger painting, regular painting, and ripping papers.
At the playground: swinging, climbing ladder, and holding on to the monkey bars.
Other crafty type things: Stringing beads, lacing cards, playing with play dough, opening and closing lids on jars, sort marbles/pom poms/etc, sensory bins, pinching clothes pins (there are so many ideas like these on Montessori blogs!), and basic clothing closures (buttons, zippers, etc.)
For his birthday, my dad made my little boy a board with different hooks, screws, washers, and other hardware pieces to be put together and taken apart. This is another great idea (and can be easily made if you now someone handy - or else you can also buy them online. One bonus thing I like about this one is that the little screwdriver was actually my grandpa's.)
As a helper: Carrying in groceries, washing dishes, folding clothes (washcloths are a good item to start with)
And even though the occupational therapist suggested strongly against having preschooler use those little worksheets where you trace letters, there are a lot of pre-writing skills like mazes in books like the ones above.