The present observational study examined the roles of maternal sensitivity and responsiveness in relation to child early literacy skills. Mothers and their 3- to 5-year-old children were asked to write together three word pairs. Each word pair contained a common phoneme. In one word, the phoneme was represented by one consistent letter, and in the second word, the phoneme was represented by two letters: one consistent and one inconsistent. Mothers demonstrated sensitivity by adjusting their teaching support for letters that varied in consistency, or difficulty. Further, mothers who taught at a higher level had children with more advanced early literacy knowledge, but no differences were found in parent self-report and observed measures of teaching. Mothers also adjusted their teaching support when their child struggled, or were responsive. However, maternal responsiveness depended on the type of difficulty the child experienced. Finally, the majority of mothers only accepted conventional spellings.