How to Practise Name Writing
I've spent some of the Summer holidays working with some lovely children, helping them with their name writing. I've also had lots of parents ask how they can help their child learn to write their name in preparation for starting school. So I thought I'd write a little blog with ideas and some of my top tips!
Recognising their name
Before you can expect a child to learn to write their name, they need to be able to recognise their name. This will also be important for children at school, finding their names on any self-registration boards, mood boards, finding their books, water bottles and pegs etc...
Display their name in lots of different places around the home and label everything of their's with their name.
Talk to them about the shapes of the letters in their name and the heights of the letters etc.
Count how many letters are in their name.
Play games using their name:
- Play 'Pairs' or 'Snap' with pictures of family members on one set of cards and written names on another set.
- Write their name on a white sheet of paper
using a white wax crayon. Let them paint over the sheet with water colour paints and see their name appear before their eyes!
- Draw large outlines for each letter in their name and allow them to colour them in, collage them in different materials or fill them with paint.
- Roll and bend play dough to cover the letter shapes in their name.
- Cover the letters of their name with glass beads, mini pom poms, bended pipe cleaners etc...
Learning the order of the letters in their name
The next step is for a child to learn which order the letters appear in their name.
Say the letter sounds for each letter in their name whenever you are pointing it out to them. Where possible, use the phonetic sounds for each letter, although I appreciate this is tricky for some names.
Games and activity ideas:
Make their name using magnetic letters, then mix them up and see if they can re-order them.
Put the letters of their name in a sensory tray, water or sand tray and ask them to delve and find the letters, then order them. Can they work on those fine motor skills and use tweezers to grab them with?
Let them make their name using alphabet stickers.
Cut their name up into individual letters and ask them to peg up each letter in the correct order. (Pegs are another good way to build up those hand muscles and work on fine motor skills)
Can they find the letters of their name on a computer key board?
Make necklaces or bracelets with letter beads.
Find the letters of their name in alphabet spaghetti or use letter shape cookie cutters to bake a biscuit name, or simply roll and cut playdough.
Write each letter of their name on Post-it notes for them to re-order.
Play 'Odd one out'. Write their name lots of different times, but on one or two occasions, slightly mix up the order of some of the letters. Can they spot the odd ones out? Stick a sticker on those with the correct spellings.
Write their name on a pool noodle and cut up the individual letters. Can they fish for the letters in a water tray and order them correctly?
Learning to draw the letter shapes
Rather than forcing a wriggly young child to sit still at a table with paper and pencil, there are lots of other fun and interesting ways that you can encourage them to make marks and practise drawing the letter shapes.
Use the following ideas and activities, but focus on just one letter at a time.
Write the letter in chalk. Using a wet paintbrush encourage your child to paint over the letter and make it vanish!
Draw the letter in sand, or a tray filled with salt or flour. First let them use their finger to go over your letter, then encourage them to have a go at making the shape without your guide.
Practise drawing the letter in the air with their finger.
Ask your child to dip a cotton bud or their finger in paint and trace over the letter you are focusing on.
Rainbow writing. One of my favourite ways to practise drawing letter shapes! Give your child an outline for the letter you are practising and ask them to draw the letter shape inside using a coloured pencil. Then go over it again and again, using lots of different colours, until you have used all of the colours of the rainbow!
Write the letter repeatedly using a highlighter pen and allow them to go over your guide first before attempting their own.
White boards and pens are great for practising as they take away the fear of 'getting it wrong'. It can simply be rubbed off by the child and tried again.
Finally praise, praise, praise! Every little step of the way. As frustrating as it can seem, when they can 'get it' one minute and then not, the next. Keep up the positive praise, for every tiny little step forward. Words of praise, stickers, display their efforts on the fridge or in a frame. What ever will boost their confidence and encourage them to want to continue learning.
It's worth mentioning, that before a child can gain good pencil control they need to have participated in lots of fine motor activities, be encouraged to have a good/comfortable pencil grip, and have practised different handwriting patterns first. Drawing horizontal and vertical lines with control. Zig zag shapes, wiggly lines, circles etc. You can find examples of handwriting sheets on the internet or buy fairly cheap handwriting pattern books, some with dry wipe pens, that can be used over and over again.