Cookie's is four, almost five, and she has been able to write her name fairly legibly for at least a year. We started very young making sure she could recognize her colors and objects. By age 2 she was singing the A-B-Cs all by herself. She surprised me one day while laying on the kitchen floor she broke into song and didn't miss a letter. She loved to color and draw so I decided it was time to put those skills to use in writing.
We started very simply with her name. I started out by helping her hold the pencil or crayon and writing the letters with her. Then I would write it for her and she would try copying it herself. There were times she would write it completely mirror image which was amazing and strange. It took some time, but finally she was able to write her name in all caps. Then DH and I started having her copy the alphabet. She was able to recognize the written letters in all caps, but she had a hard time with recognizing the lowercase counterpart. She's gotten better, but I know she'll need more familiarity with this before she goes to school.
I searched online for a "handwriting practice sheet for toddlers" and I came upon a wonderful site. It is Handwriting for Kids. I wish I would have found this sooner, at least now I have it for Bonbon too. They have tools and worksheets for teaching children and adults basic writing skills. Their worksheets are divided into instruction for righthanded and lefthanded. They also have blank worksheet practice pages much like the super wide ruled notepads we had in kindergarten and first grade. There are so many different options. For the righthanded manuscript alphabet pages alone there are over 1000 basic worksheets from which to choose. You can choose worksheets with images or without and some with a words to practice. It is very nice to be able to choose worksheets based on your child's ability and rate of recognition. All of this is provided free and on a voluntary donation basis only. How cool is that!?!
Cookie is very independant; rather stubborn. She has trouble following directions sometimes. I notice that even visual cues are sometimes not enough for her to understand what it is she needs to do on a worksheet. I have to sit down with her and figure out what she understands about the instructions and what she doesn't get. Then she seems to be able to complete the task a little better after it's explained more clearly. She'll be reading soon so I don't think this will be an issue much longer. I'll be on the lookout for a pre-school reading primer. We have been doing OK with reading to her and having her recognize words and figuring out how to pronounce words based on spelling, but I think we need some better direction to speed her progress. My mom was really good about making up games that helped me learn to read by age 3, but I find I'm not as creative as she is. (Another post for another day. . . )
So if your little one can hold a pencil and likes to draw and write why not print out some of these work pages and help them accomplish a few. This will give them confidence and burgeon their interest in reading and writing.