Monday, October 6, 2014

Tracing Letters, Names, and Words

Last week I made a post about morning sign-in. It prompted a few teachers to ask me why I said young children should not trace their names, but write them on their own. Here is what I believe is the answer to that question.

It requires very little thought for a young child to trace letters or words on a page. He or she does not have to consider left to right directionality, how to form letters, or how to make connections between letters and sounds. Tracing letters and words also fails to provide young children with a purpose for writing, it does not represent an attempt to communicate an authentic message, and in most cases, it is not considered an enjoyable task.

Verbal Path
When young children are beginning to learn to write letters. learning the specific directional movements for forming the letters can help them make efficient, legible letter forms. Pairing the verbal path descriptions with the motor movements helps little ones form letters more easily. Eventually, the child will internalize the language and the actions will become automatic.

By verbal path, I mean the directional motions that demonstrate how to form the letter. For example, as you make an "a," you can say, "pull back, around, up, and down." Children can initially make the letters in the air using larger movements.

Be sure to use the same language each time you give directions for letter formation. Consistency is very important.

Help children notice the letters they form well.

Be careful not to overdo letter formation prompts when children are first learning to make marks, lines, and scribbles on paper. Young children first need opportunities to explore and experiment with making marks on paper without pressure or restraint. 

Early attempts at writing are valuable experiences for young children. Through likeness and demonstration, they steadily gain a complex understanding about communicating through writing.

For the young child, writing for oneself is an opportunity to solve problems and with appropriate adult support, he or she can learn a great deal and also feel the power of writing.


Sylvia Parker said...

You made some very valid points as to why wring our names should take place for authentic reasons. Great blog post.

Joan Howell said...

Totally agree with you! I have been using a sign-in sheet for a few years. ALL of my students have learned to write their names that way. No more tracing, dotting letters for names, etc. Writing for a purpose is highly motivational! Enjoyed your blog post!

Allison said...

Any ideas for ELL students who might not understand verbal directionality? I have six students who do not speak English in my K classroom this year and I am definitely struggling with alternatives to tracing. Thanks!

Alex John said...

I am very glad to have found your blog - I love connecting with other kinder teachers and I came upon your blog on the perfect post! I really need to get a sign in sheet going now that we are into our year - we just had our 21st day of school today. I meant to start a sign in sheet earlier. We have done a lot of name work, but not that. I love your ideas and they have motivated me to move forward with that! Thanks for sharing, and also for sharing your thoughts on tracing - extremely helpful!

Liz said...

Excellent post! Keep sharing your wisdom with us!

Mrs. Clancy said...

I love this post April! So nicely written! I am so glad you are still blogging with your new position! Melissa

Mary Duhart said...

Hi am a preschool teacher and student with Grand Canyon University. I enjoyed the information tips you shared here about the path to writing and verbal clues. This will help me with teaching my little ones more efficiently thank you for

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