Literacy

Teaching your child to write their name

I remember well the family conversations that were shared about possible names for our grandchild, Daisy. Now it’s impossible to imagine her having any other name! 

We’ve watched as she’s grown and have seen how she’s taken ownership of her name and become a ‘proper’ Daisy. 

Our children and grandchildren take their name and invariably take ownership of it. Initially they hear us use their name when we talk to them in simple sentences, such as “Here’s your red ball, Daisy” and they start to talk with their three-word sentences, using their given name, e.g. “Daisy red ball”. They haven’t yet learned to use the first person singular.

Know your name

When Daisy was a toddler, we put a sign on her bedroom door with her name on it, and arranged her name in large 3D letters in her room, so that she began to see it and recognise it on a daily basis. 

By the time she was two and a half years old, we had started to play letter games with her, introducing and using initial letter sounds. We would play these letter games at any opportunity, at home, travelling or out and about. 

We’ve enjoyed the opportunity to send Daisy a greetings card with her name on it, or a letter or a small parcel addressed to her. Mummy and Daddy tell us these are usually received with delight, as the delivery of personal mail still holds a lot of magic and excitement for a preschooler!

Along with the other mail that Daisy has received from relatives, she started to become familiar with seeing her name in print. Not long after this, she wanted to make marks on paper herself and would enjoy adding her mark to a greeting card and then sending those to relatives.

These small steps have helped Daisy to recognise her name when it’s written down and printed. Now she is delighted when she discovers other people with the same name – whether they are characters in a book or on a television programme. When Daisy started at her nursery class she had no difficulty in identifying the peg for her coat: it had her photograph above it, but she could also read her name alongside the image.

Spell your name

Before Daisy started at nursery school she was already enjoying making silly sounds as a preparation for building her phonetic skills. With parental encouragement, Daisy has quickly learnt the phonetic sounds of the letters in her name. Those phonetic skills have continued to develop and have been practised in her homeschooling and school video classes during the ongoing UK lockdown.

This week, at Daisy’s request, we had another one of our Facetime calls with our sets of magnetic letters and baking trays. This play gives Daisy the opportunity to gain confidence as she practises her phonetic skills. 

Using magnetic letters has helped Daisy to learn basic spelling

Last time, we practised letter sounds and blending letter sounds to read three-letter words. But this week’s activity involved role reversal, as Daisy wanted to give me the instructions to follow! 

Step by step, Daisy told me the letters that I needed to find. Using the correct order, she directed me to find the letters that I needed to spell ‘Daisy’. With the completed word on my tray I held it up for her to see, as she also held up her tray. They matched. Daisy was delighted! 

This simple activity revealed another important step for Daisy. My granddaughter can now spell her own name without any prompting and I found the moment quite emotional! 

Activities like this suit our situation – separated by a lockdown and distance – but there are other different letter activities and resources that can give young children the opportunity to practise spelling their name, such as using letter cards, lacing letters, foam letters, letter stamps and tactile letter shapes. The tactile letters can also be useful when a child is learning letter formation.

A preschooler uses tactile letters shapes to spell her name: Daisy
Tactile letters are another way to encourage letter formation

Write your name

Both at the childminders and at home, Daisy has had regular practise at letter formation and this will continue when she is back in her nursery class, now that some lockdown measures are beginning to ease. 

She is mastering her tripod grip and pencil control, encouraged to have a good writing position and is using her Tiny Tots First Learning ABC easel to develop these letter-formation skills. As an alternative to using a letter-formation book, there are also some online charts and booklets to help with letter formation for preschool children. 

A preschooler practices writing the letter S
Daisy is still working on her tripod grip, and her letter formation!

Now that Daisy recognises her name, knows how to spell it and has been practising letter formation she is ready to combine these skills and practise writing her name, letter by letter.

It’s much more interesting to practise writing your name when it is for a purpose. I recently gave Daisy a small spiral bound notebook and she loves to take it out, making little ‘notes’ on the pages along with writing her name. Daisy is also practising writing her name so that she can write on the Mother’s Day card she’s selected for Mummy and also write her name on her Grandpa’s birthday card. 

The hope is that, by the age of five, when Daisy starts her reception class at school, she will not only recognise her name but also be able to write it with confidence.

Granny Smith says

  • This blog outlines how a child progresses through three stages to acquire the skill of being able to write their name. Each child is an individual and they will gradually acquire these skills but it’s not a race, so let them progress at their own pace. Some children will want to write because they have older siblings and will want to copy them. Other children just enjoy lots of mark-making and they don’t rush to form letters.
  • When a child practises their letter formation they will incidentally be learning the direction that we write in, in the UK – horizontally and left to right. But then when they add their name to a picture they’ve made, they may write the letters of their name down the page. Occasionally, when a child starts to write some letters may be written in reverse and there can be confusion with d and b, as well as p and g. All of this is quite common and none of it is a problem.
  • Just offer your child plenty of opportunities to write on different pieces of paper, with different pencils/pens, encouraging a correct pencil grip, pencil control and promoting a good writing position.

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