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What's in a name?

Learning about your name can jumpstart understanding print.

As children begin to develop their reading and writing literacy, one of the most important “words” they should know is their name. A child should see their name in written format to be able to 1) recognize it, 2) learn that their name is important, and 3) learn the letters of their name in order as a prereading skill for reading.

Since children do not learn the letters of the alphabet in any predictable sequence, using the letters of their name is a great start. Be sure that when the child sees their name, it is written with appropriate uppercase and lowercase letters. Just as children recognize the logos of popular restaurants, they can also recognize their names.

When children see their name, it should become a welcome and familiar sight. Next, focus on naming each one of the letters in isolation. Start at the beginning of the name and name each letter in order. A child should be able to isolate each letter of their name and know what it is called. After the child has mastered that, mix up the letters and see if they can identify each letter in random order.

At this level of learning, the child is not “reading.” They are learning the names of letters without understanding too much about the process of reading. They cannot “sound it out” to decode unknown words yet. They are beginning to understand that letters make sounds or have different phonemes.

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