Welcome back to Day 2 of the Ready for Kindergarten: 30 Days of Activities, Ideas, and Learning Fun series. I’m so excited you’re here and that you’re ready to take steps to help your child succeed in the classroom.
Today we’re talking all about name-writing.
Many parents begin to teach their child to write their name at an early age. But, I always had a handful of students who couldn’t write their name, and another handful who weren’t able to recognize their name in print. So, if you have already begun to teach your child to write and/or familiarize him/herself with their name, pat yourself on the back! You are ahead of many parents. If not, no worries! You have plenty of time to get started and give your child the head-start he/she needs.
There are a few things to remember when teaching your child to write their name, but there is one rule that is of UTMOST importance: Teach your child to write their name the “kindergarten way.” The “kindergarten way” is using a capital for the first letter, and lowercase letters for the rest.
Many parents teach their child to write their name in all caps, as they think it will be easier. However, when a child learns to write in all caps, he/she will have to re-learn how to write their name when school begins. It is easier to spend a little extra time in the beginning and teach them to write their name correctly.
Here are a few tips when teaching your child to write their name:
- Use a golf pencil! A small pencil will force your child to use the correct grip.
- Encourage your child (especially if they are entering Kindergarten in the fall) to use a pencil when writing. Crayons are a child’s writing utensil of choice, but they will not be allowed to write with them in school. Break the habit now.
- Provide your child with a model to copy. They need an example to follow. If you do not have great handwriting, try using a large font, and printing out their name for them to use as a model. (Be mindful of the fonts that use the “fancy” a’s, such as this one!)
It’s best with a skill like learning to write their name, that you go at your child’s pace. Having your child practice 5x per day is an appropriate amount of practice. Make sure to praise their efforts and remind them that learning a new skill can be tricky. If they become frustrated, encourage one more try, and then pick it back up another time.
Try to stay positive. I’ve never seen anything turn a child off to writing more quickly than a handwriting stickler. With enough practice and daily writing, kids will pick up proper letter formation naturally. For now, just concentrate on getting a capital at the beginning, the rest of the letters in lowercase, and the name spelled correctly. Sloppy writing, backwards letters, or starting at the bottom when they should start at the top are not your priorities at the beginning.
If your child is struggling, add one new letter each day. Concentrate on practicing just that one new letter, and then have them write their name using the letters you have practiced. Make each day cumulative, working on what they’ve already practiced.
If your child has name-writing under control, work on their middle name or last name. (SO many of my former students didn’t even know what their last name was!)
Another idea to take name-writing further is to have your child work on the names of family members and friends.
Standard or D’Nealian
Find out if your child’s school district requires students to write in standard print or in D’nealian. (D’nealian is a style of writing with lots of “monkey tails.”) Begin to teach your child in the style he/she will need to use at school. A simple phone call or email can save your child a lot of frustration. Our daughter learned to write in D’nealian. When she began kindergarten, her teacher was VERY strict about the little loops and hooks she’d learned to make, and Hannah became very frustrated at having to re-learn how to form some of her letters. It is likely you taught your child to use standard printing to form his/her name. If you happen to be in a district that uses D’Nealian, simply show him/her how to add a few “monkey tails” and “fish hooks.”
Have your child write their name in every color of the rainbow. (Yes, I know I am breaking the “write with a pencil rule”, but the novelty of the activity (and getting to use a marker) will make practicing more fun!) This will increase the amount of practice they may be willing to complete and will be a cute piece of art when they are finished too!
Write your child’s name on a piece of white paper. Space your letters out so that they are far apart. Next, glue the white paper onto a sheet of construction paper. Now comes the fun part! Get creative and cut apart the letters to create a puzzle. Use zigzags, jigsaw lines, bumps, etc. Then, present the mixed up pieces to your child (and a model of what their name should look like) and have them complete the puzzle. This activity helps them learn to recognize their name (and the letters within their name!), as well as how to spell their name.
For children who already know how to write their name, make a name puzzle for their middle name or last name.
Using stamps is a fun way to begin name-recognition and name-spelling. Have your child use letter stamps to stamp out their name. Once they have stamped their name, have them try to copy it. We have the following stamp sets, and my children LOVE to use them. Using the stamps makes name recognition and name spelling FUN (and not a chore!)
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