What’s in a name?

Its hard to believe that summer is coming to an end and we’re all gearing up for another school year. Whether that be preschool, pre-k, kindergarten or early elementary school, it is indeed the time of year to get back on track and help our little ones learn new things and grow academically.

No matter the age of our children, there are many activities we as parents or caregivers can do with them to help them with letter concepts/understanding and early literacy skills.

TEACHING LETTERS: An integral part of early literacy is first grasping the 26 letters of the alphabet. This includes being able to recognize letters, know the letter sounds and also how the letters looks in print. Gone are the days on relying on “the ABC song” for teaching and understanding letters and how they work. I find it easier to teach both uppercase and lowercase letters together as well as the corresponding letter sound(s). In addition, I’ve found that teaching letters out of order, may be a better approach. So, instead of starting with the letter “A” and working down the alphabet, begin teaching letters to you child by using the letters in their name first. Your child’s name is one of the first words they hear, possibly one of the first words they say and definitely a word they will need to know and use in school. Using a word (name) that is familiar will help them make letter/sound connections and begin to understand that letters have sounds, sounds make words and words come together and have meaning to form sentences and tell stories! All things that will indeed help our children become successful learners.

NAME ACTIVITIES:

* Label things with your child’s name at home. Have your child point to it and say their name. This could something as simple as a 3×5 card taped on the wall near their room. Point out important things about their name. It has 5 letters, it begins with a capital letter, it has 3 vowels and 2 consonants, the letters are always in the same order, it reads from left to right, the first letter makes an “r” sound, etc. Don’t be afraid to use “big” words like consonant and vowel. Remember that our little ones are like sponges and using “real” language is a way to help them learn.

* Stock up on inexpensive magnetic letters (multiple sets) and pull out the letters in their name. Post it on the fridge and have them rebuild it underneath with another set of letters. For older children, mix them up and have them remake it.

* Write the alphabet on a long strip of paper and have them point to the letters in their name that they recognize.

* Make a “letter” search and have them circle or color letters from their name. If this is too challenging, just use the first letter of their name and have them search for it.

* When you are out and about, use commercial print to your advantage. If you see the sign for TARGET and your child’s name is Timmy…point out that the first letter in the word Target, begins like Timmy’s name. It’s amazing what commercial print contributes to early letter recognition for children!

I’ve attached a few photos of name/letter activities that we’ve done recently. My next post will focus on what letters to teach next (beyond what’s in a name) and give more information on HOW to go about teaching letter concepts to various age groups.

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