Writing on the Wall is Great For Kids! |How to teach a child to write their name|
Ok, hear me out.. We think of writing on the wall as taboo but the activity is so beneficial to development. I had my head start students learn to write their names upright every day during our arrival routine. Currently, the preschoolers I babysit have name cards for my home and a set for theirs to double the their exposure to the great skill builder!
Should they actually write on the wall itself? Of course not, they should write on paper, a dry erase board or chalkboard. The medium used for production can be whatever you have available to make the activity possible. I prefer laminated paper held to the fridge or front door with a magnet and dry erase markers. When we need to use paper I prefer to back them with a clip board or poster board to prevent any bleeding or bumpy surface issues from the walls or fridge. When we were in an apartment with a tiny space and tiny budget I thumbtacked a thin poster board to the wall for an upright drawing station. We taped paper to it and it served as a scribble catcher for upright coloring and drawing.
Won’t this encourage coloring the real walls? Nope! I do not believe for one second that they wouldn’t have tried writing on the walls had you not introduced this activity, they all do it. I also believe that it has more of an opposite effect in that it scratches that curious itch. I even consider that the compulsion to write upright is driven by their natural drive to grow and strengthen their muscles and refine their abilities. I had a classroom with 16 students ages 3-5, an open art center and white walls. The students had fulltime access to paper, tape to hang it and tools to write with and they learned very quickly what the expectations were. On the other end of that spectrum, if they can not access art supplies they can not use them incorrectly. In my home we have a happy middle ground, the supplies are accessible but the children need permission to start a project.
Why upright? When the child is standing and writing at eye level their back will be upright and not hunched like at a table top which strengthens the core muscles, especially those that that support the arm. They also must hold their entire arm up as its not being rested on the table top which strengthens the whole arms muscles. Then the writing itself strengthens the hands and fingers.
Best practice is to provide this type of writing daily, add this 2 minute exercise to a current routine and stick to it! Beginners should start with tracing their name, you can write it in highlighter on a piece of paper, hung at eye level. If you have access to a lamination machine you can write their name in a light color or highlighter and then laminate the paper and use with dry erase markers and a magic eraser. Once they have mastered tracing their name you can change the activity to copying their name, provide a copy of their name to look at and a blank space to write on. Next you can take the copy name away and encourage them to write the letters as you spell them verbally. The key to this activity being a success in the positive feedback you provide towards their efforts! Little Suzie drew a circle on each letter? Great try big girl!! Never tell them, that’s not a letter or you’re not doing it right. This will only stunt the potential benefits of this activity. We want them to beam with pride from their efforts and they will try every day to earn that praise and feel that feeling.
This activity also teaches letter recognition when an adult or older child stands by and verbally identifies each letter, one by one, as the child writes them. Build these identifiers into your praise for a complete and easy experience; “First we will start with your R, it says /r/ in Rylee”, “I love the way you’re making your y”, “wow that is a great l”.
This is, by far my favorite first step and most important routine in teaching a child to write their name. The letters of the name are always the first letters I teach a child to recognize and write, so this is a perfect first step all around! If you have a schedule to follow, place it near an already established routine and add it right in; near the door before you leave in the morning, on the fridge while dinner is made, next to their bed whatever works consistently for your family is what is best!