Writing is one of the most anticipated learnings from kindergarten, isn’t it?
Traditionally, we have all learned to write in the same way — capital letters first.
This is the practice that currently prevails and this has been the practice for many years! No one’s questioned it.
This has been the way of learning to write.
Over the years, we’ve developed and improved all aspects of our education systems, recognized the importance of play-based learning and the demerits of rote learning.
We have, now, implemented better teaching methods that have a positive impact on not just academic success but also in developing a child’s overall personality.
Now, it may be time to question the age-old writing techniques and find the right mechanism considering the latest research findings on children’s development of the writing grip and the prevalence of writing in a digitized world.
How letters are introduced to children
Most schools follow a format when introducing letters to children.
It tends to look a little like this:
- Introduce the name of the letter — ‘A’ is the name of the letter and not its sound
- Teach how to write capital letters
- Introduce how to write lowercase letters
- Teach how to read the lowercase letters without introducing the sound of the letter
Most educators and parents seem to find convenience in introducing capital letters because of the following reasons:
- Capital letters have mostly straight lines. Many believe this is easier to teach and practice
- They are all more distinct from one another when compared to lowercase letters
- All capital letters are written in one straight line and within the lines of a ruled paper
But do these reasons hold true today?
Are we trying to understand writing from the perspective of the child and their natural development of fine motor grip and control?
There is very limited evidence suggesting one method to be prioritized over the other.
We have compiled certain facts on why it would be better to leverage from early reading and align writing tasks to introduce small letters first.
Why choose lowercase letters over capital letters
Capital letters can be taught by associating lowercase letters which completes the learning process in one go.
Although capital letters consist of mostly straight lines, most letters require multiple strokes. There is also a lot of ‘stop, pick up the pencil, start and again’ movements.
Children need to pick up their pencils halfway through writing way more often in capital letters than lowercase letters. This often disrupts the child’s flow and they may lose their pace while writing.
1) The fluidity of lowercase letters
The fluid motions of lowercase letters make it easier for children to successfully write the letters. Moreover, scribbles consisting of curved lines and circles are what children draw intuitively when given a crayon.
In any case, if your child does not have a good grip or fine motor control, they shouldn’t be attempting to write anyway!
There is no scientific evidence that establishes writing capital letters is quicker or easier than their counterparts —lowercase letters.
So, the argument that teaching to write capital letters is easier for the child does not hold good.
2) The dominance of lowercase while reading
It is also important to consider the early reading skills of children.
About 95% of the text we see consists of lowercase letters, right? So, children will typically see more lowercase letters when they are reading by themselves or when you read out to them.
It is only fair that the same is introduced when they begin to write as well.
If your child is only introduced to capital letters, how will they follow along when you’re reading a book to them?
They would only be able to recognize the first letter of the sentence and so are denied the opportunity to participate in the reading.
3) Unlearning becomes difficult
Once kindergarten children are taught to exclusively write in capital letters, you have to spend much more time, when children are in upper grades, breaking this habit!
It’s common practice for young children to write in a combination of capital and lowercase letters in the early years.
We would rather teach them what we want them to write the first time around. The process of unlearning is much more difficult.
TIP: Enhance phonological awareness
The case against introducing capital letters is plenty. However, the most efficient way to introduce children to letter writing may be to first enhance their phonological awareness.
Learning a language is not all about written skills. It is a combination of reading and writing.
Reading precedes writing and so, it is recommended to keep it cohesive by introducing the letters by their sounds.
Lower case letters are used to depict the sound, and writing could follow the same order.
- Teach the letter sound depicted by lower case letters
- Introduce the name of the letter which is depicted by the capital letters
- Recognize the letter in print (display both cases on flashcards)
- Focus on replicating the lower case letter form
- Link the lowercase and capital letters
Once we have established the essential foundation for the letters by teaching children the sounds, form, and name of the letter, it becomes easier to add a secondary layer of teaching the associated ‘capital letter.’
Once your child has mastered the lowercase letters, ensure you link them with their capital letters.
Explicitly help children understand how and when capital letters are used.
Remember, reading goes with writing! Don’t forget to read out to your child while they practice writing.
Drop a comment below to share your thoughts with us!
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