How to teach Capital Letters and Small Letters

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One of the fundamental skills that every child is initiated into in preschool is writing. While some of us are a bit skeptical about how important writing is in the new age of computers, writing is actually critical for internalizing content. A study has shown that students who take notes by writing, understand and internalize the content better than those who type on their laptops.

This is due to the fact that you write slower than you type. You have to listen, condense and write it down which fortifies understanding. Therefore, even in today’s world of laptops, for a student, writing remains an important skill to master and to be used for the next few decades of student life.

Traditionally, for identification of letters and distinguishing them from each other, upper case letters are easier for children to identify. When learning new letters, lower case can be confusing with ‘b and d’ ‘p and q’ etc. Therefore, usually upper case letters are always taught first because they are big and bold, and clearly differ from each other. However, when it comes to writing, even though traditionally we have always started with Uppercase letters, experts are increasingly recommending that students start with lower case letters first since they will use that more. Once they have had some practice, then, you can introduce upper case letters corresponding to the lower case letters.

Start with their Name:

Nothing gets a child more excited than writing their own name! So, begin with the letters of their name.  You can start with a tracing activity. Write your child’s name on a big piece of paper and have them trace it to get an idea of how writing feels. It will also make them familiar with the sequence of the letters.

Stroke Method:

Most of us have been taught to write the alphabets as a whole image for upper and lower case letters etc. However, there is another way to introduce the child to writing called the stroke method. Here you first introduce the child to basic strokes involved in creating any alphabet. Each stroke is assigned a name that can be easily understood by a child. These strokes are essential to master for writing numbers as well. They are:

I: Standing Line

__: Sleeping Line

/: Right slanting line

\: Left Slanting line

C: in Curve

Ɔ: Out curve

U: Cup

͡   : Cap

Once a kid has mastered these strokes, it is easier for them to put them together to form an alphabet. Since children love to draw and doodle, teaching them shapes and curves is a good segue into teaching alphabet writing.

This video demonstrates this methodology:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IiiaDYw_48c

TROUBLE SHOOTING

The grip of the pencil is important to master hand writing skills. Sometimes children struggle with the pincer grip (holding between thumb and index finger). If your child has such an issue, then have them do activities like threading beads, building with Lego blocks etc. that would help them refine their fine motor skills. Mancala games, which involve handling small stones, beads etc., are great for practicing this skill too. Having them cut pictures from magazines using child-safe craft scissors is also a fun activity to improve fine motor skills.

It is very common for children who are starting to write to write in mirror images. Some parents worry if this is a sign of dyslexia. But it is actually a very common problem that gets rectified by itself and there is no need to panic.

Improving Handwriting

Some kids do not like to write, which makes their hand writing illegible. One of the main reasons for this could be that your child is writing too fast, not spending enough time on completing each alphabet, and tending to scribble at the end of each word. Encourage your child to write slower, and appreciate when they do a good job so that they feel motivated to write neatly. You could also provide them incentives to practice with handwriting notebooks – for example, half an hour of writing will earn them half an hour of play time, etc.

Writing is one of the fundamental skills we teach our children and it could be important to approach it a few different ways to see which one your child would take to. But ultimately, it is important that you do not stress your child out if they are slow to catch on. Just let them enjoy the process. Ultimately, everybody writes 😊

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