Teach Your Child to Write Their Name with 8 Easy Tips

teach your child to write their name

For most young children, learning to write their name is one of the very first literary milestones they will achieve.

Your toddler’s journey of reading and writing begins when they learn to write their very first word. It’s an exciting and very special moment for parents and young learners. So how can parents ensure their child reaches this important milestone with ease, enthusiasm, and a sense of accomplishment and pride in their new abilities?

Here are eight easy tips to help your child take their first steps at writing their name.

1. Start with capitals – Capital letters are the first letters your child will learn. Young children find them easier to distinguish, remember, and write. Once your child has mastered writing capital letters, you can slowly introduce lower-case letters, or wait until they have started school. Remember that most young children are yet to develop the fine motor skills needed to write lower-case letters, and trying to get them to do it when they’re not ready can quickly lead to frustration.

 2. Tracing over dotted lines – Before your child learns to write their name, they need to have some basic motor skills to write letters. A great way to develop this is by helping them trace over the dotted lines that form each of the letters in their name. This will help your child hone their motor skills while learning letter formation at the same time.

Note: It’s important to encourage your child to follow the one basic rule for both reading and writing English: start from the top working down to the bottom, always left to right. When your child begins forming letters, either using dotted lines or working independently, always encourage them to start at the top.

3. Gripping the pencil properly – Teach your child to grip their pencil properly in order to develop good handwriting skills. If they start off learning to write with poor grip, they may encounter a great deal of frustration when they start school and are forced to change their habit. The ideal way to hold a pencil is with the thumb, index and middle fingers. This is sometimes known as the ‘tripod grasp’. Holding a pencil this way ensures fluid movement and allows the hand to remain stable.

Note: Your child will be watching you make letters and words, and how you hold a pencil. Remember to be a good model; most adults are more accustomed to typing on a keyboard nowadays, so you may need to make a special effort to hold a pencil correctly.

4. Cheer on attempts at early writing – Celebrate your child’s earliest attempts at writing by displaying their scribbles on the wall alongside their artwork. This will give them a sense of pride in their abilities, and encourage them to improve.

5. Display their name on posters and labels – Help your child grow accustomed to seeing their name printed in their bedroom and around the house. Label their lunch containers, toy boxes and books, and hang posters on the walls which display their name printed in both capitals and using lower case.

 6. Have fun with letter formation – Children respond well to a multisensory and hands-on approach to learning. Learning to form the letters in their name doesn’t always have to be done with a pencil and paper. Experiment with different materials such as clay, paints, and even pieces of candy or dried fruit to help your child form letters. Take turns writing invisible letters in the air or on each other’s backs, tracing letters in the sand with a stick, or writing letters on the bathroom mirror when it gets fogged up!

 7. Create your own name puzzle – Before your child learns to write their name, they will need to be able to identify each letter and arrange them in the correct order. This can be achieved using fridge magnets, alphabet blocks, alphabet stamps, or even typing on a computer. You can also create your own name puzzle by writing each letter of their name on a separate piece of paper, and getting them to arrange the letters in the right order.

 8. Provide verbal instructions – Encourage your child and try to avoid being too critical. Learning to write letters takes time and patience. Before they try their hand at writing, show them how it’s done while slowly explaining as you go. For example, ‘I start at the top. I go down to the bottom.’ Use words to describe the formation of different parts, such as ‘big’, ‘small’, ‘straight’ and ‘curvy’. For example, if you’re writing the letter G, explain, ‘I start at the top. I make a big curve. Now I make a small line.’

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Raising a Reader through Pretend Play

dramatic-play-benefits

If you have an imaginative preschooler at home, chances are you’ve seen how easily children can transform the living room into an elaborate jungle, turn paper scraps into currency, or re-purpose the remote control as a navigation stick for a spaceship.

Pretend play (or imaginary play) refers to a type of play where children accept and assign roles, and then act them out. For a long time it was considered fun but with limited educational value. However, more recent studies have found how pretend play can support early childhood development, including early literacy skills.

Here are some ways you can support your preschooler’s early literacy skills through pretend play:

Add functional print into the mix. Functional print includes things like newspapers, menus, signs, coupons or labelled items. By surrounding your child with functional print during pretend play, you are creating an environment in which your child can interact with print as adults do. Your child will see how texts are used in a variety of different ways. One study showed that classrooms rich in functional print material inspired more literacy-focused pretend play, which resulted in children achieving higher literacy levels.

Re-enact stories. When your child acts out or retells the stories you’ve read together, they’re demonstrating and enhancing their comprehension skills. Encourage your child to act out a story in the right order and take on different roles. This will help them gain an understanding of narrative structure, and consider how different characters have different personalities and motivations.

Choose books that enhance pretend play. Observe what your child likes to do in pretend play. Do they like to pretend to be a doctor, a firefighter, a dancer, or a dinosaur? This gives insight into their interests, which will help you choose books that not only capture their attention but also their imagination, equipping them with more knowledge, vocabulary and material to use in pretend play.

Provide a variety of symbols. During pretend play, a doorstop could become a slithering snake. A slip of paper could become money. By assigning a purpose to different props, your child develops an understanding of symbols. Opportunities to create and use symbols will help your child use other symbols, such as letters and numbers. As they get older, provide writing materials like pencils, crayons and paper to help them create their own symbols to which they can assign meaning.

Role-play with your child. Role-play is a fun and powerful way to expand your child’s vocabulary and encourage their language development. Role-play scenarios involving different characters can introduce new related vocabulary words and encourage your child to use expressive language. For example, if you pretend to be a teacher, include as many related words as possible (e.g. classroom, students, blackboard, desk, books, learning, reading).

The most important thing to remember during pretend play is that it should be fun. Fun matters. It’s what motivates your child to stay engaged, curious, and inventive during play, which enables them to reap a wealth of educational benefits in the process.

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10 Easy Ways to Build Your Child’s Phonemic Awareness

phonemic awareness

Understanding that words are made up of individual sounds is the very first step towards becoming a reader. Children who have developed a fundamental understanding of this will have a much easier time learning to read printed words. This is where phonemic awareness comes into play.

Phonemic awareness is the ability to understand how sounds work in spoken language. It is one of the five essential components of learning to read, and can be explicitly taught through a range of strategies and everyday activities.

Because phonemic awareness comes before learning to read text, it is mostly developed at home. Parents play a significant role in developing their child’s phonemic awareness.

Here are ten simple ways to build your child’s phonemic awareness and take those first steps towards learning to read.

1. Sing songs and nursery rhymes. Rhymes help children understand that sounds in our language have meaning and follow certain patterns. Have fun reading and reciting songs and nursery rhymes together, and exaggerate the rhyming words to highlight the different sounds in each word.

2. Encourage listening. Encourage your child to listen closely and pronounce the sounds in words. Help them listen for individual sounds in words, pull them apart and put them together.

3. Speak slowly and use repetition. If your child is struggling to hear sounds within a word, say the word slowly and repeat the word if necessary. This will make it easier for them to hear the individual sounds. The goal is to help them develop an “ear for sounds”.

4. Create word cards. Write some words that have three sounds on separate pieces of card, e.g. cow, bat, dog, lip, sun, pot. Let your child choose a card, read the word together, and then hold up three fingers. Ask them to tell you the first sound they hear in the word, then the second, then the third.

5. Create a print rich environment. Printed words allow children to see and apply connections between sounds and letters. Make an effort to draw your child’s attention to sounds by saying and pointing to letters at the same time.

6. Play “I Spy the Sound”. “I Spy the Sound” is a fun way to build phonemic awareness. In this variation of “I Spy”, spy words that begin with a certain sound, rather than a letter.

7. Word games. Have fun inventing word games based around listening, identifying and manipulating the sounds in words. Begin a word game with your child by asking questions like, “What sound starts the word __________”, “What sound ends the word __________”, “What words start with the sound __________”, or “What word rhymes with __________”.

8. Write together. Sit down with your child to write a greeting card or a shopping list together while slowly sounding out the word sounds you write. This will help your child understand that words are made up of different sounds that come together to create meaning.

9. Play board games. Family board games like Junior Scrabble or Boggle are fun ways to play with words and sounds. Place an emphasis on the sounds in words and encourage your child to do the same.

10. Read aloud regularly. Read slowly while pointing to each sound, and encourage your child to repeat them too.

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