5 Ways to Help Young Children Learn to Spell Their Name

With these playful activities, your child will soon recognize her own name.
Oct 03, 2018

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5 Ways to Help Young Children Learn to Spell Their Name

Oct 03, 2018

From an early age, a child learns that his name is the word that represents him, first verbally and then in written form. This is an important precursor to learning that a word represents the same object, place, or action it's attributed to, each time it's said, written, or read. Often, one of the first words a child learns to read and write is his own name.

Help Your Young Child Learn to Read and Write Her Name

Young children love seeing their name appear in meaningful ways. Write your child’s name on his belongings, toys, and on bookplates in his favorite books. Make a name decoration together to hang on his bedroom door.

Begin to grow your child’s awareness of the letters of her name by starting with the initial letter and pointing it out often in everyday print that you come into contact — on signs, cereal boxes, book covers, etc. You can say, “I can see a T. Your name, Tomo, starts with T.’

MORE: 3 Steps From Scribbling to Spelling

Write your child’s name on his artwork, using a capital letter for the first initial and lowercase letters for the remainder of the name. If he shows interest, invite him to "write" his own name too. At first, he is likely to use squiggles and letter-like symbols to represent his name, but over time an actual letter or two will appear and, with repeated opportunity and acceptance of their attempts, his name will eventually appear in a more legible form.

Playful Ways to Explore Your Child’s Name

By around three or four years of age, you might like to invite your child to make his name using a range of creative materials. As he creates, talk to him about the name of the letter he's working on and the sound it makes in his name (and other words!). It's your interaction with your child as he completes these activities that make these valuable learning experiences. 

Safety Note: As some of the activities recommended below use small materials, such as beads and bottle tops, close adult supervision is recommended at all times. Use these ideas below as inspiration, using age-appropriate items for your child. 

Here are some creative ideas to try: 

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1. Sticker names: Write your child’s name in large letters on a sheet of paper and let her use colorful stickers to cover the letters. 
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2. Play dough names: Again, write your child’s name in large letters across a sheet of paper, this time inviting him to roll play dough "snakes" to cover the letter shapes.
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3. Building names: Help your child to build the letters of his name with Duplo or Lego bricks. Have fun mixing up the order of the completed letters, inviting your child to put the letters back into name order.
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4. Bead names: Using chunky letter beads, help your child to find and order the letters of her name before threading her very own name necklace.
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5. Bottle cap names: Use a permanent marker pen to write one letter of your child’s name inside each of a series of plastic bottle caps. Invite him to put the caps into name order. Create a second identical set and play a memory game. Simply, turn all of the caps over so that the letters cannot be seen. Take turns choosing a cap with the aim of finding each letter in name order, from the initial letter onwards. The first player to make a completed version of the name is the winner.

To your child, her name is the most important word in the world, so be sure to also share the story of why you chose that one particular name for her, with her. This, along with having fun with the letters and form of her name, will help to strengthen her sense of self as a unique identity within the world.

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