For more strategies please take my course "Sloppy Handwriting"!
The first time a child can write their own name is a big deal! It marks the beginning of their handwriting career and is the first of millions that they will write! Therefore, we want to give them every opportunity to do it correctly and accurately. Here are some tips that will help your child succeed with such a momentous task!
1. Teach your child how to write their name in capitals. Uppercase letters are typically easier to learn because they are more distinct than lowercase letters. Often lowercase letters can be difficult to differentiate and children can become confused (i.e. p, d, b, g). Also, uppercase letters consist of four basic shapes: little line, big line, little curve, and big curve. Since horizontal and vertical lines area easiest to learn, the following uppercase are recommended to learn first: F, E, D, P, B, R, N, and M. These techniques can be found on the Handwriting Without Tears website: www.hwtears.com. After they are proficient with writing in uppercase then start to teach them to write their name in title case (first letter uppercase and remainder in lowercase).
2. Use multi-sensory techniques to teach formation of letters. Encourage them to draw their uppercase letters in various textures. When using all of our senses to complete a task we tend to remember it much better! Try writing in paint, shaving cream, pudding, or chalk. You can even draw out their name with glue and then have them sprinkle Kool Aid or Jello mix on the glue to create a "scratch and sniff" version of their name (using that olfactory sense).
3. Once they have an idea of how to form letters you may encourage them to trace letters. Many people give kids dotted lines for tracing. Unfortunately this can be very visually confusing for these young eyes. I strongly discourage you to use dotted lines. Instead, try writing the letters with a thick highlighter. Then they can trace inside the highlighted line.
4. Encourage them to start every letter at the top. In school we learn the habit to always write our name at the top of the paper (easier for teacher organization). Most worksheets have one line at the top of the paper. This becomes a natural visual cue that facilitates them to put their pencil on the line and then make their letters. Unfortunately this encourages kids to start their letters at the bottom. It's unusual, but a great strategy is to put the line at the bottom of the paper (see photo). Then when students put their their pencil on the line they are automatically starting at the top and writing in a downward direction.
5. When kids first start to write their name, the letters can end up being HUGE! Over time we would like them to decrease the size of their letters to an acceptable size. Using the strategy above we can start to bring the line closer to the bottom of the paper. As they put their pencil on the line and write their letters down they won't have a lot of room to write. This naturally allows them to start to decrease the size of their letters. If not they will end up writing on the table, which most kids know to avoid. Another strategy is to cut a sheet of paper into 4 strips and encourage the child to write his name on the strip of paper. This will teach him to write within the space allowed and keep his letters the same size. If you give them paper strips that are 4 inches in height they have nowhere else to write but on the paper. Then the following week give them paper strips that are 3 inches in height and gradually decrease the size to 1 inch over time.
Remember...handwriting should always be fun and never stressful! For more strategies please take my course "Sloppy Handwriting"!