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Teaching Children To Write Their Names


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Hello all!

 

Finally it has happened, and 2 in 1 day. Parents wanting to know why we don't sit children down and teach them their letters. One is convinced that school will expect her son to be able to write his name when he starts in September, and I'm not really sure I've convinced her otherwise. Frustrating really as this particular chap wasn't at all interested in writing or drawing at all, but now, as relevant resources are available to him, he is 'writing' all the time. He wrote me a menu for me to look at when I was in his imaginary cafe this week, and a ticket for me for the train he had built, and often writes plans on a clipboard when he is being a builder in the garden. I told Mum all about the ethos of the EYFS but I could tell she wasn't convinced. She told me she had managed to teach him the letters in his name in half an hour last night!

 

Does anyone have a letter or something they could share to explain to parents why we do things the way we do? I would very much appreciate any advice, thanks. Feeling quite demoralised.

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No letter, but a well-presented information leaflet might be an idea - half-term project anyone?

 

At my daughter's nursery we had a very lovely meeting with teacher and parents at about October half term. Teacher outlined her priorities for the children's learning, that they should feel confident and settled and be making friends, talking a lot, and willing to exlpore and give things a go. She said she didn't mind if children went on to reception not knowing numbers, writing their names etc, because she knew they would pick that up later if the foundations she talked about where in place.

 

Her tip for how to support childrens' writing was to get lining paper and let them make train tracks; car maps - because if they can't control big lines they won't be able to control small handwriting.

 

At the parent/ teacher interview she said our daughter was very happy to sit and write in much the same way you describe. She saw the first step to writing proper is that children will sit and mark make and focus - the finer skills can be taught but the attitude needs to be there first.

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If she's convinced that the school will want hm to be able to write his name ask her to bring in the paperwork that supports this. Tell her that as you feed into more than one school (presuming here) you would like to support whatever the school requires in order to help her child settle quickly. You know she wont be able to do this so I wouldnt worry about a letter. Just keep on praising how well he is developing in all areas. I once gave some fellow students some Japanese writing to copy, none of us knew the correct way the characters should be written or what they meant or sounded like, just like a small child.

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Unfortunatley in the school which the majority of our pre-school children attend, its the first thing the teacher checks is whether or not the children can write their name and our parents expect us to do this as its what the school looks for

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We occassionally have the same thing...... as part of my Foundation Degree I had to issue a questionnaire, and as a bit of fun included some of the development matters statements from the profile and asked parents to guess at what age children should be expected to achieve them...

 

The results were astounding! and so was the parent's reactions when they were given the 'answers'.

 

I've attached the sheet, if it's any use...

 

what_age.docx

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From a teacher's perspective you are acutally indicating to me from what you are saying that your children are ready to be given some help in learning to write their name. You are doing them a disservice if you do not provide opportunities for them to develop that skill along side the other skills that you are offering. Along side all those other wonderful pre- writing activities and opportunities, veriety of paper and mark making tools etc, can you not provide name cards to be traced, copied etc and lower case letter shapes in the dough etc?

 

If you are doing those things, as I imagine you are, then you are providing opportunities for the children to learn to write their own names.

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From a teacher's perspective on the one hand it's a nightmare undoing poor letter formation because parents think that because their child is doing a circle with a stick out the bottom they are forming the a in their name.

 

On the other hand for those children that want to write and do teach themselves to write their own names independently using available resources it is a nightmare when they simply copy the shapes resulting in the same habbit of forming the letters incorrectly.

 

Sometimes I do wish there was more formal teaching of handwriting for children who want to write going on in pre-schools (who want to write being the key words there!) but I do understand why it is hard to get the balance right, especially with schools expecting different forms of letter formation depending on their own policies. ABC has some good ideas on his blog to solve the problem of poor letter formation habbits, although doesn't solve the problem of different styles for different schools. I would say though that teaching children a basic non-cursive style of letter formation if they are showing an interest in forming letters is better than doing nothing because of worries about getting the wrong style.

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We occassionally have the same thing...... as part of my Foundation Degree I had to issue a questionnaire, and as a bit of fun included some of the development matters statements from the profile and asked parents to guess at what age children should be expected to achieve them...

 

The results were astounding! and so was the parent's reactions when they were given the 'answers'.

 

I've attached the sheet, if it's any use...

 

what_age.docx

 

Can we have the answers please?

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Can we have the answers please?

 

The answers are the development matters age bands

 

 

 

 

In my Preschool I do help some children to form the letters of their name correctly. These are children who 'know' their name, can recognise it in print and are already making their letter shapes on their paintings and pictures, and copying other children's names in their notebooks. We spend time with a whiteboard and I have laminated name cards for them to write over whilst we watch and congratulate. Some children are not interested of course and fair enough. All I ever stress to parents is that we never push it as it can turn children right off, and that it's important that letters are formed correctly as it's a job to 'unlearn' later.

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Exactly so Cait - with you all the way there! If a child is showing interest, a need, an understanding following the EYFS guidelines their next step would be that we must help and guide them the best way we can, make sure your parent knows the correct way to show her child letter formation too so that there are no mixed messages happening. Same with alphabet, so many children know the letter names only first.

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We certainly don't hold children back on this........if they are showing interest, we help to move them forward.....letters made out of dough, in shaving faom, in sand, all the usual things......... and we've now been asked to start teaching this in cursive writing........by the reception teacher

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I agree with Kariana and am having my own struggles with having to re-teach children how to form the letters in their name correctly. I am lucky that my NQT in our F1 class agrees with me, the NNs don't however so they keep asking when it is going to get done! I keep reiterating that to write their name is an ELG and so is an end of F2 year expectation!

 

For my F2's I made name cards and put a green dot to show where to start, added a few dashes to show the direction to go and then a red dot to show the finshing point of the letter. This is working well and I have seen a huge improvement in some of the children's independent name writing. But even at this point in the year I still have some children who are not ready. They are still working on Phase 1 of L&S and so I'm not going to push them with their name writing until they are ready for Phase 2 and are actually learning the correct formation alongside the phonic aspect. This is what has triggered the name cards. The children have now been taught how to form the letters and so I feel that it is the right time to focus on writing names.

 

It seems to me that the observations the OP made of children mark making to communicate meaning and using letter strings is what most F2 teachers should be focussing on looking for in the Autumn Term as these are the first points on the profile, rather than the name writing.

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I like this, its not directly linked to writing names but foundations in general - can't remember where it came from:

 

The more stress a building is subjected to, then the more flexible the foundations have to be.

 

When a building is built on poor ground, then the foundations need strength to compensate.

 

If the foundations are inadequate it is very expensive to underpin a building at a later stage.

 

The foundations take longer to create than the building.

 

The higher the building, the firmer the foundations need to be.

 

If a new building is joined to an existing one, then the correct connection between the two foundations is vital.

 

This, to me, explains why we in the foundation stage do what we do!

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I have always used the ability to draw a triangle freehand and without 'coaching' as a really good indicator as to whether or not children are really ready for making the changes in direction required for writing many letters. I find if they cant do this, then very little point in trying to teach correct letter formation.

 

I also do lots and lots of gross motor movements, eg write dance, and I found using this regularly made a huge difference to both the enthusiasm and the accuracy of writing.

 

Ive been teaching for many years and I find it a shame that the expectations of chidlren on entry to reception are limited to whether or not they can write their name (Im sure there are others too). I find so many other things so much more important.

 

Devondaisy, don't lose heart, sometimes you have to stick your neck out and stand firm to what you believe. You could add it to information you give out about your setting so that parents know from the start what you do,

 

You might find the early education leaflet 'making their mark' useful

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I have to say that I don't class writing a child's name in the same way as I do learning to write, or handwriting - it's a matter of a personal thing which children can be interested in doing, i.e. forming their signature which, as we know, looking at anyone's signature may or may not be correctly formed letters.

 

I wouldn't advocate, for the children at my setting anyway, to be learning much more than their name, so that they can individualise their work, or signing a birthday card etc. and with the gentle hand at guiding them how to form those letters, if and when they are ready to, any other kind of letter/sound recognition is done traditionally, as already stated through, foam, sand playdough etc.

 

To be sure, we have to deal with a large proportion of children who have already been learning to do this at home at a very young age who have been taught to do it by parents and worse case scenario to write in capitals.

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- smoothing the transition from early years to primary by extending and building upon active, play-based learning, particularly for 'summer-born' children and those still working towards the early learning goals;

- a new focus on spoken communication, making particular use of the performing and visual arts, especially role play and drama;

"The touchstone of an excellent curriculum is that it instils in children a love of learning for its own sake.

 

The goals are aspirations that teachers encourage children to move towards in a supportive way, they are not hoops to jump through."

 

2. The two early learning goals from the Early Years Foundation Stage that Sir Jim Rose was asked to review were about the higher levels of achievement in literacy and set the aim that by around age five, most children will be able to:

 

Write their own names and other things such as labels and captions, and begin to form simple sentences, sometimes using punctuation (already reached by 28.3 per cent of children in 2008)

 

Use their phonic knowledge to write simple regular words and make phonetically plausible attempts at more complex words (already reached by 48.2 per cent of children in 2008)

 

these are all quotes from the rose review perhaps some of them are useful to explain to your parents where you are going...i have underlined the around age five quote because i often find we seem to be on a fast-track to getting young four year olsd to be treated the same way as a five year old! :o

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I have to say that I don't class writing a child's name in the same way as I do learning to write, or handwriting - it's a matter of a personal thing which children can be interested in doing, i.e. forming their signature which, as we know, looking at anyone's signature may or may not be correctly formed letters.

 

This is an interesting viewpoint and I can see where you are coming from, however do you not find that a child who learns to form say the a in their name in their own personalised way then goes on to apply this every time they write an a in any writing? Unfortunately something like that is very habit forming and it's a habit that is a complete nightmare to undo. It's also one which I find sometimes can ultimately do more harm than any good which may have been got from letting them do it their own way and form the habit in the first place, as suddenly you have to imply that they are doing it wrong and need to do it the right way in order to become good writers.

 

I'm not saying that one particular way is right or wrong, just that this is something I've noticed. It tends to be worse with children who have really struggled to learn to write their name in the first place as those that found it easy to learn pick up the new habits they are being taught much faster. I don't know what the solution is though, you can't stop children picking up a pencil and learning to write their own name, but equally I know it can be very difficult to catch them and teach them the right way from the word go! I suppose it will be one of those things that is just never resolved!

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from my point of view when a pre-school child begins to 'write' it is an exciting development and as a practitioner i want to encourage any mark making but there comes a time when you have to negotiate how these letters are formed correctly...this is about knowing the children and those who are able to take instruction and those who need more time. I have a four year old in my group at the moment ( no school place!) he has only just started to write...i am obviously not going to stop him but his letter formation will need help...i have to be careful how to time this or i may tip him over the balance and he will stop alltogether. This process is sometimes not helped by parents teaching letter formation incorrectly or capitals only. Mind you i had one this week who did several squiggles and said thats my name ....in urdu! i'm afraid my written urdu still needs some practise so i could only agree excitedly :o

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worse case scenario to write in capitals.

 

While I have to say I agree with this one, for those of you interested in schemas, Tina Bruce advocates this as capitals are easier for young children as they are mostly a collection/ arrangement of straight lines.

 

Also, for anyone with Specific learning difficulties, you may be recommended a handwriting development programme by the Occupationational Therapist called "Handwriting without tear" which also uses a system of capital letter shapes in various sizes.

 

In today's computerised age where children are learing also to use a keyboard with capital letters and producing lower case equivalents it may be that actually we dont need to worry quite so much. But, to counteract this I think a precursive and maybe joined style from an early age is the way forward in consequence.

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Hello all!

 

Finally it has happened, and 2 in 1 day. Parents wanting to know why we don't sit children down and teach them their letters. One is convinced that school will expect her son to be able to write his name when he starts in September, and I'm not really sure I've convinced her otherwise. Frustrating really as this particular chap wasn't at all interested in writing or drawing at all, but now, as relevant resources are available to him, he is 'writing' all the time. He wrote me a menu for me to look at when I was in his imaginary cafe this week, and a ticket for me for the train he had built, and often writes plans on a clipboard when he is being a builder in the garden. I told Mum all about the ethos of the EYFS but I could tell she wasn't convinced. She told me she had managed to teach him the letters in his name in half an hour last night!

 

Does anyone have a letter or something they could share to explain to parents why we do things the way we do? I would very much appreciate any advice, thanks. Feeling quite demoralised.

 

I've found this discussion fascinating reading! Just referring back to the original post, would it be possible to reassure these parents by supporting them in teaching this name writing at home? What I mean is, dealing with the worries about correct letter formation, by giving them a printed sheet which shows the correct direction of the letters in the child's name. They could then do this at home while you stick to the EYFS ethos at preschool. Although you might not 'agree' with what the parent is doing, I think it's important to respect the rights of parents to choose to bring up their children in the way that they wish, even if that goes against your philosophical position.

 

Our name is such a part of ourselves that I can see this from the parent's perspective. I sometimes feel that with the EYFS child initiated thing, we have got into a position where we react negatively to any suggestion that you can actively teach a child how to do something correctly, rather than waiting for him to 'choose' to access it independently.

 

Ducks back under parapet :o

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This is an interesting viewpoint and I can see where you are coming from, however do you not find that a child who learns to form say the a in their name in their own personalised way then goes on to apply this every time they write an a in any writing? Unfortunately something like that is very habit forming and it's a habit that is a complete nightmare to undo. It's also one which I find sometimes can ultimately do more harm than any good which may have been got from letting them do it their own way and form the habit in the first place, as suddenly you have to imply that they are doing it wrong and need to do it the right way in order to become good writers.

 

I'm not saying that one particular way is right or wrong, just that this is something I've noticed. It tends to be worse with children who have really struggled to learn to write their name in the first place as those that found it easy to learn pick up the new habits they are being taught much faster. I don't know what the solution is though, you can't stop children picking up a pencil and learning to write their own name, but equally I know it can be very difficult to catch them and teach them the right way from the word go! I suppose it will be one of those things that is just never resolved!

 

 

We do, of course, Kariana endeavour to get them to form the letters correctly if they are writing their own name, I really just meant that whilst we don't teach children to write formally within the EYFS, I don't see any good reason to hold them back from being able to write their own name if they want to, but inevitably there may be some personalisation of how they may write it which I accept could lead to problems further down the road.

 

I don't think that we will ever really be able to hold off children from letter formation until they are of an age to be taught at school the proper way - because as you say, it is very difficult to catch them just at the right time.

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I sometimes feel that with the EYFS child initiated thing, we have got into a position where we react negatively to any suggestion that you can actively teach a child how to do something correctly, rather than waiting for him to 'choose' to access it independently.

 

Actually I agree, but it's hard sometimes to know what we should be doing, as all the 'experts' have different ideas!

 

Perhaps I over-reacted (not infront of the parent obviously.) It's a bit frustrating when you have worked hard to provide an enabling environment for the children, but the parents can't see that what their child is doing is building the foundations for their future learning. This particular child is now enjoying mark making in many different forms, and likes to watch me write his home book as he recognises his name on the front. He has shown no interest in writing his name up to now, but I'm sure he would have in his own time, and then I would have supported him, correct letter formation and all!

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Actually I agree, but it's hard sometimes to know what we should be doing, as all the 'experts' have different ideas!

 

Perhaps I over-reacted (not infront of the parent obviously.) It's a bit frustrating when you have worked hard to provide an enabling environment for the children, but the parents can't see that what their child is doing is building the foundations for their future learning. This particular child is now enjoying mark making in many different forms, and likes to watch me write his home book as he recognises his name on the front. He has shown no interest in writing his name up to now, but I'm sure he would have in his own time, and then I would have supported him, correct letter formation and all!

 

We get exactly the same, it seems you cannot please parents, I am still spitting blood about the responses to our latest parent questionnaire (moan, moan, moan about lack of 'structure' rather than saying thanks!). I think it's just a lack of understanding of how young children learn, which is understandable really as they are not experts, even if it is very frustrating for you guys.

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In my opinion there's not enough focus on the DM aspect of retracing verticals and making anticlockwise movements - the basis for pretty much most letter formation, cursive or not!!!

It's all there in the handwriting strand!! :o

 

 

Cx

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I'd like to ask about pre-writing skills - is it appropriate to model to children who are observed trying to write their name (or even to draw) a pincer/tripod grip of holding a pencil ? many 3 year olds are observed holding in a palmer grip and getting frustrated at the results they are producing. If so, does anyone have any suggestions. If it is not good practice, I'd be grateful to know the reasons.

 

I also think that explaining the importance of children playing with toys/games/balls etc, especially outside, to build upper body strength, especially gross motor of arms, plays in the process of writing.

Maybe displaying a poster for parents?

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Good plan!

 

Someone once told me - and I've tried it and it mostly works - is that you sit opposite a child at the table and give them a pencil by putting it on the table in front of them above the piece of paper they are going to use. Position it with the point towards them and the 'barrel' pointing back to yourself. They invariably pick it up with a perfect pincer grip that just has to be rotated back to the thumb juncture. Mostly it does work.

 

I've also heard a Mum saying "Hold it like a fag and swing it round" but perhaps we shouldn't go into that, although that works too :o

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