Name  Writing


One of the following articles is from my book, HOWEVER... I took this copy of it straight off of because I’d really like to encourage those of you who are interested in learning more that you can do at home to support your child (as s/he is developing early literacy skills) to spend some time looking at Nellie Edge’s website.

Since I know that it is sometimes overwhelming to look at a research based website all at once... I thought I’d direct you to a few of the most important topics for parents one subject at a time...

The first subject is handwriting... specifically Name Writing.

I send home special name writing homework each year. I ask parents to monitor their child as their child practices writing their name. I ask that you do it a certain way... making sure that your child learns the verbal directions for the correct formation of each letter, and that s/he forms every letter correctly, starting at the correct place... every time.

Sometimes parents don’t understand why parental supervision of this activity is crucial... The reason why is because I don’t want a child practicing their name the way that they have been writing it since preschool... I want them learning to form the letters a certain way... and I want that new way to become a habit! If students go home and do the name writing homework without supervision then they typically practice it without saying the verbal directions. Students often forget to start their letters at the top... Sometimes they hold their pencil incorrectly...

Because I want this homework supervised and done a very specific way... I only ask that you have your child write his/her name once or twice every night. I am hoping that once or twice the correct way will be easy to fit in before you do your evening reading to your child. However... if it is not possible for you to supervise this handwriting homework then please just return this homework to school.

Here are two articles that explain why I use this name writing strategy, and a little bit about exactly how I develop fine motor skills and teach handwriting at school:

Parents as Partners

Teaching Your Child to Print Their Name Efficiently

Learning to print one’s first (and later last) name is an important literacy skill in kindergarten. (Families will receive...) a name card showing how we will teach your child to form the letters. Please encourage your child to practice several times a day at home. Your child will be asked to carefully practice forming the letters on a 2" x 4" blank card and then to name the letters ...every day in kindergarten. If they make a mistake printing, they just take another card and do it again. Making improvement and giving our best effort is important to learning. We celebrate each child’s progress and talk about the “best letter.” Then we choose one letter to practice making over and over until the brain and fingers make the connection. Repetition builds control and confidence until efficient letter forms become automatic.

A child’s name is the most important word he or she will ever learn to write. Once the child gains mastery over these letter formations, they will have internalized many handwriting principals and other letters will be easier to form efficiently.

Please... keep one copy in the area where your child likes to write and draw. With daily practice at home and at school you’ll be amazed at how quickly your child’s ability to form letters improves.

While good handwriting is not the most important focus for young writers, learning to automatically control letter forms within a growing number of high frequency (“by heart”) words, frees the child to focus more energy into expressing their ideas in daily “kid writing.”

•We honor and celebrate all children’s initial writing explorations and understand that small muscle coordination varies greatly from child to child. Kindergarten letter formation instruction is always positive, individualized and encouraging. It is integrated into real writing activities so the children are motivated.

Incorrect muscle memories can be hard to unlearn later. Our aim is to encourage efficient letter forms right from the start — beginning with the child’s name.

Credits to Susie Haas, national kindergarten trainer and author of Cornerstones of Kindergarten Literacy, for sharing the "Name Ticket" strategy.

While we work on letter formation, we also work to develop fine motor skills. We make sure to do a little fine motor exercise by drawing, writing, and by coloring with crayons... taking the time to make sure the colors are solid...

The Art and Handwriting Connection with Laura Flocker

Kindergarten and Reading Recovery® teacher, Laura Flocker, develops children's ability to see and draw various shapes from the first day of school as a part of her amazing art-rich classroom. Inspired by Laura's work and generous sharing, other kindergarten teachers have discovered that this is "the missing link" for some young children who have difficulties learning to form letters — they need more explicit, systematic instruction in seeing and drawing like an artist. Laura weaves drawing and guided art instruction into every part of the kindergarten experience from the first day of school. She offers the following loose progression and guidelines:

  1. Begin teaching children about lines and shapes as they explore each new art media: crayons, pencils, colored pencils, watercolors and markers. Use fat lines, thin lines, straight and curved lines, zigzags, horizontals and diagonals. Then explore making different sizes of circles and other basic shapes.

  2. Teach children to sketch shapes made from pattern blocks. (The concept of sketch is to draw lightly with pencil, and wait to erase. It's okay to have several lines. Later you choose the best line.)

  3. Explore lines and shapes in picture books. Notice Eric Carle’s shapes are not perfectly symmetrical, they are more free form – or abstract.

  4. Learn to make a "close to perfect shape" and then explore "free form" drawing for fun and pleasure. Hearts – start with a V then curve it out on each side. Make a dot below the point of the V. If you want a fat heart, make the dot close; for a long heart, make it farther away. Free-form hearts are special, unique, each different.

  5. Make shapes in different positions.

  6. Give children the artist’s vocabulary — horizontal, diagonal, vertical, circle, oval, hexagon, realism, abstract, mural, zig-zag, slant, curve, symmetry, perspective, balance, shading, blending, etc.

From Art, Literacy and the Kindergarten Child, (book draft) by Laura Flocker and Nellie Edge. Currently, the book is only available as part of Laura Flocker’s training seminars.

When you are in class for conferences your child will show you his/her red writing journal, his/her yellow science journal, AND his/her white drawing journal. The students are anxious to show you how much they have already improved over the past 2 months!

Here is a sample of the name writing verbal directions that we send home:


E   “Down, lift, straight across from the top, then the middle, and the bottom.

r   “Down, follow it up, over”

r   “Down, follow it up, over”

o   “Curve up and around close.”

l    “Down.”

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