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Displaying children’s names in preschool

children's namesWhen Tressa and I decided to start writing a blog as part of our website, one of the main reasons for wanting to do this was to be able to provide information and support to early educators and parents and start discussions. We LOVE to receive questions from visitors to our website and blog! We received the following early literacy question from a preschool teacher:

“I teach 3’s in a half day church program. Handwriting Without Tears recommends that you teach children to write their name in uppercase letters first and then before K teach them in upper and lowercase. Do you agree with this and if you do, should I post their names in their cubbies in only uppercase? I understand HWT’s reasoning that uppercase letters are easier to learn since they all start at the top. Thank you for your help.”

This is a great question!! It has been our experience that Kindergarten teachers prefer their children to know how to write their names with upper and lowercase letters upon entrance. As preschool teachers, we have found that teaching children to write their name in all uppercase letters, and then attempting to re-teach using upper and lowercase can cause a great deal of confusion. We have always found it easier and beneficial to teach children the upper and lowercase method from the start.

Cubby tags, names on artwork, print around the classroom, etc. should also follow this method so the child can visually recognize their name in the environment. We also provide parents with information on how to reinforce handwriting at home, including proper pencil grip and construction of letters to ensure a child is receiving consistent instruction.

That is our experience. But I wanted more opinions on this – so I asked our early literacy expert, Colleen Brunetti to add her input on this discussion as well.

Here’s what Colleen says:

I was curious if there was a “best practices” or researched based answer to the question “What’s the best method for handwriting instruction? Upper or lowercase first, or both together?”. After some research, I’ve concluded the answer is … there isn’t an answer! It seems to be largely based on program and/or personal preference.

My personal opinion is that when you are creating a print-rich environment, such as you are helping to do by labeling the cubbies, you should model the correct form with the first letter being uppercase. I really believe in modeling all language in a “real world” way like this – after all, what you model is what kids will be most tuned in to and learn from!

Handwriting Without Tears is a great program for teaching letter formation but, aside from writing their names, you’re primarily focusing on letters in isolation at this point, somewhat different from seeing printed words as a whole in the real world. I see no problem with sticking to the curriculum you’ve chosen for actual instruction and also modeling proper word formation around the room. Outside of the classroom they’ll be seeing that mix of upper and lowercase in lots of places too!

Thanks for your input, Colleen!!

Lastly, I decided to also turn to a resource that I learned about this summer in researching more opinions on this topic. I participated a Book Study Blog party of the book “Literacy Beginnings” (Fountas & Pinnell). This book is a wonderful resource for early educators who want to learn more about the emerging literacy learning of young children.

Chapter 20 of this book was all about NAMES! A great quote starts off the chapter of this book …“The most powerful and effective way for children to begin learning the complex process of learning about letters is by writing their own names.” — Carol Lyons

WOW! That just adds more weight to this question, doesn’t it? According to the authors Pinnell and Fountas, “Once children learn that their names are words and that they are made with the same letters in the same order each time, they begin to understand the concept of a word.” (p 194).

Deborah Stewart (Teach Preschool) reviewed Chapter 20 as part of the book study. All of the photos displayed in this chapter and in Deborah’s post showcase wonderful literacy activities that display children’s names using upper AND lowercase letters – supporting this approach to displaying children’s names in the classroom. I encourage you to read Deborah’s full post onChapter 20 – NAMES.

I’d love more input on this topic!

How do YOU teach children to write their names in preschool? How do YOU display children’s names throughout the classroom?


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