"I write." is one of my daughter's daily statements. She is 20 months old. She loves marking with skinny markers (Pipsqueaks!) and does a pretty good job staying on paper. It is interesting to me that writing and drawing seem so natural to her. Granted, a lot of writing happens here. She loves to sit at the table and instruct for me to draw babies, meow-meows, and woof-woofs while she marks the other side of the page. Yesterday, I made a circle and asked her to do it, and she tried a closed shape. It was pretty exciting. She has been all about lines. But after her attempt, it was more meow-meows for me. She tapped the page firmly to let me know her plan.
My son was an avid "writer" at about ten months, marking on my grocery pads. (He has never written on an inappropriate surface!) But at some point, I think my "guidance" about his pencil grip may have been what dulled this interest. I remember waiting in agony for him to be interested in writing his name and doing more representational work. Luckily, paint and play were nice distraction from the pressure I had created with pencil grip. Giant paper and co-illustarted big pages (mostly trucks and cars and roads) were our next step. It is a relief to see him currently so engaged with writing and drawing projects.
There is so much writing in play and life in our house. I think a lot of factors contribute, especially the availability of a variety of materials: pens/ markers/ paper, easels, notebooks, envelopes, list pads, book templates, cards, and so much modeling. But time is probably the most influential component. TIme to sit next to them one-on-one, time to play and explore, time to make independent choices in play, quiet time to think, and time to be slow.
I am glad I've figured out that no pushing is necessary. I just need to leave out the markers and leave enough time.