Teaching Your Child to Recognize His Name
Your child's name is important
A child's name is the single most important and special word in his or her vocabulary. It is also usually the first word a child learns to write.
As a baby, his name is the first word your child will hear repeated over and over as family and friends coo lovingly into his ear. As a toddler, it's the word he'll learn to associate with himself. And, as a preschool or kindergarten student, it will likely be the word he sees to label his cubby or bin in the classroom. For this reason, it's extremely important that your child be able to recognize his name in writing and, eventually, be able to write it himself.
How printed names are used in preschool and kindergarten classrooms
In a preschool or kindergarten classroom, your child's printed name often labels his coat hook, his shoe bin, his assigned seat, his completed artwork and worksheets, and his extra pair of clothes, just to name a few. Additionally, there are typically more than 20 children in the average preschool or kindergarten classroom, which means your child will need to identify his printed name from the other 20+ printed names he sees.
Imagine walking into a room and not knowing which folder to put a completed worksheet into or which chair to sit in, for example, while your peers seem to know exactly what to do. For this reason, it is extremely helpful for your child to come to school able to recognize his printed name. This skill contributes to confidence in the classroom and a sense of belonging.
In preschool, children are generally expected to be able to recognize their first name printed in all uppercase letters at the start of the year.
Typically teachers add the last name to all name labels in the classroom midway through the preschool year and children are not normally expected to be able to identify their name printed in lowercase letters until the beginning of the kindergarten year.
Teach your child to recognize his or her name in print
For a young child, learning to recognize his or her name in print requires strong visual discrimination and letter/word awareness skills. This is because many letters (such as B and P or C and G, for example) look very similar.
Start by writing your child's name in bold, uppercase letters. (Wide-tipped permanent markers produce a bold line.) Once your child can easily and consistently recognize his first name in the uppercase letters, you can introduce the letters in his last name using the same activities. As you introduce your child to his printed name, do not worry about phonemically sounding it out for your child or even teaching him the sound each letter in his name makes. At this beginning stage, simple visual identification of his printed name should be the goal. After your child can comfortably recognize his name in uppercase letters, try introducing his name using lowercase letters, also using the activities listed below.
1) Write your child's name several times on large index cards or construction paper and tape these in his bedroom or on the refrigerator door where he displays his artwork.
2) Label a placemat with your child's name. Use a permanent marker that won't get wiped off. He will see it every day when he is eating!
3) Write his name inside his story books. Point to his name and read it each time you open the book before you read the story.
4) When you read his name, point to the letters, saying each one in order. Ask your child to repeat what you are saying. Then let him point to each letter and say the letter names with him until he can say them himself.
5) Play an "I Spy" type of game by writing your child's name several times on a large piece of paper. Add a few random words and ask your child to circle his name each time he finds it.
6) Play a game by writing your child's name, along with other family members' names, on index cards. Spread the cards out in front of him and ask your child to pick his name from the group.
7) Transfer shampoo or bath soap from the large containers to small, plastic bottles that are labeled with each of your children's names. Ask your child to find his personal bottle each time he bathes.
8) Sit with your child at the computer and help him find the letters in his name. Set the computer to print the letters in a large, clear font (upper case at first) when your child hits the appropriate letter on the keyboard.
9) Have your child watch as you label his artwork or any letters or cards he may be sending to relatives or friends. Ask him to spell out the letters in his name as you write them.
10) Write your child's name boldly on a piece of fine sandpaper using a wide-tipped permanent felt marker. Ask him to use his finger to trace over each letter as you say the letter name.
11) Put some sand, salt or sugar onto a baking pan. Let your child "write" his name in the salt of sugar using the pointer finger of his dominant hand.
12) Use magnetic letters to spell your child's name on the refrigerator. She will see it often. Try mixing up the letters and let your child arrange them in the correct order.
Help your child develop strong letter/word awareness
Since being able to identify your written name requires strong letter and word awareness skills, a great way to help your child improve his skills in this area is to work on letter and word awareness worksheets, which are typically geared towards preschool or kindergarten aged children. This set of kindergarten worksheets that focuses on letter and word awareness is perfect for young children. The beginning worksheets will challenge your child to identify letters from a mix of letters, numbers and symbols and the advanced worksheets will challenge your child to count the number of words in a sentence and complete other advanced activities.
Once your child is able to readily identify what symbols are letters, which are numbers, and which are only symbols, he will be well on his way to identifying the letters in his own name.
Assess your child's letter awareness skills
In order to successfully identify his name in print, your child must be able to recognize the letters and understand that letters combine to form words. If your child struggles to identify his name, it may be that he is not yet familiar with all of the letters in his name or that he is still uncertain about how letters must be in a specific order to form a specific word. A great way to assess your child's letter and word awareness is by completing a basic kindergarten readiness test that includes questions relating to that developmental area.
The results of an online kindergarten readiness test will help you evaluate your child's existing letter and word awareness and give you ideas for how to help your child improve his skills in this area, if necessary.
Teaching a child to spell his or her name
In addition to being able to identify his or her printed name, a child will need to be able to spell his name to another adult, such as a music or physical education teacher. The good news is spelling your name requires simple rote memorization which nearly all school-aged children are capable of. To help your child learn how to spell his or her name, try the following:
1) Say aloud the letters in your child's name while singing a common song. Children's songs like "The Alphabet" or "Old MacDonald" lend themselves well to changing the words. So instead of singing "Old MacDonald had a farm" sing the letters "H - E - A - T - H - E - R" or "B-L-A-I-R spells Blair" to the same tune. Your child will delight in hearing his or her name set to music and will love singing his or her name and over with that tune. After a few verses, your child will have memorized how to spell his name!
2) Using large note cards, write one letter of your child's first name on each note card. Then, arrange the letters in the proper order and read them aloud to your child. Then scramble the letters and challenge your child to put them back in the right order. Each time he places a note card down, ask him to say the name of the letter on the card. And once he has all of the cards down in order, ask him to move left to right saying the name of each letter. This is a fun puzzle-style game for children and, with time, will help your child learn all the letters in his name AND how to say them in the right order.
3) Instead of calling your child by his name, spell it aloud when you want his attention. In other words, instead of saying "Sam, dinner is ready" try saying "S-A-M, dinner is ready." By hearing you spell aloud his name numerous times, he will quickly learn what his name sounds like when spelled aloud and be able to repeat that spelling for others.
Teach your child to write his or her name
Once your child is able to recognize his printed name and spell it aloud from rote memorization, you can begin teaching your child how to write his name.
The easiest way to teach your child how to write his name is by using letter tracing worksheets. Start by printing one page for each letter in your child name. Then, starting with the first letter in his name, let your child try copying the dashed lined. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!
Free early childhood education resources
Check out these great Kindergarten worksheets:
Following directions worksheets
Color words worksheets
Compare and contrast worksheets
Days of the week worksheets
And enjoy these wonderful Reading skills worksheets:
Dolch sight words
Sight word games
Word family worksheets
And check out these kindergarten math worksheets:
Skip counting worksheets
Bar graph worksheets
Tracing numbers worksheets
Ordinal numbers worksheets
How important is it for parents to teach children to recognize their names?
I believe children who start school already able to recognize their name in print are better positioned in the classroom than children who cannot yet recognize their name.
Do you agree?
Children feel so proud when they can write their name!
Are shorter names an advantage?
A child named Amy will have a much easier time learning to spell and write her name than a child named Samantha.
When picking what to name your child, did you consider the length of the name or the characters in it?