Name Recognition

Letter learning through names is one of the easiest ways to strengthen your child's literacy skills. Here are 3 fun and easy ways to work with names at home!

1. Magnetic letters-these are a WONDERFUL tool to practice letter learning! If your child is still learning to write her name, give her a model: write their name for her & then have her find the letters and place them underneath.

2. If your child is already recognizing his own name, print off pictures of family members or friends and have your child practice making their names with magnetic letters. Make these pictures magnetic and stick them on the fridge for additional practice!

3. Practice sorting letters! Show your child the different attributes of letters (letters with sticks-t, l) round letters (o, c), letters with tunnels (m, n,) etc. Allow your child to sort the letters into groups by attribute.  

As always, keep activities SHORT (ten minutes or less) and fun!!

Environmental Print

Environmental print is the print children see in their everyday life. Exposure to environmental print from an early age helps children recognize letters and words and is a great help in developing early reading skills!

Here are some easy ways to use environmental print at home!

1. Cut out pictures of familiar stores (Target), restaurants (McDonalds), or places to go (park or pool) and put a magnet on the back. Always make sure the symbol is with the word. Keep these on the fridge or somewhere that your child can play around and "read" them.

*Bonus fine motor activity-have your child go through weekly magazine ads and find environmental print they recognize and practice cutting it out!*

2. Give your child a dry erase board and marker; let them practice drawing the picture and writing these familiar words.

*Providing a model or something for your child to refer to will alleviate frustrations while working-a newspaper or magazine ad will work great.*

3. Bring the dry erase board and marker in the car; when you are driving and your child recognizes one of her "words," have her write it down! See how many she can find!

As always, keep this SHORT and FUN! Ten minutes or less!


How to Practice Fine Motor Skills

Fine motor can be one of the biggest challenges for a young child entering school. Here are some fun, NON pencil/paper ways to strengthen those skills at home!

  • Work dough (play dough, but by call it by a different name and encourage your child to make letters or shapes): Choose special colors for the "work dough" to distinguish it from play dough and always refer to it as "work!" If your child has difficulty forming the letters, take a marker and write one letter on a piece of paper and let her form the dough over it.


  • Tongs (you can grab these at the dollar store): Have your child practice picking up small objects and transferring them from one cup to another.


  • Hole punchers: Practice punching holes in construction paper, once your child has mastered this skill, write a letter on a piece of paper with a marker and have them punch along the marker line.


  • Alligator clip magnets: Practice pinching the magnets open and close.


  • Pom poms (a great rainy day activity!): Dump a bag of small pom poms out on the floor and tell your child he can only pick them up using his pointer finger and thumb.


  • Picking up coins: Spread coins on a flat surface and have your child practice picking up with her pincher fingers.


  • Sand: Place sand (colored sand is especially exciting) in a small Tupperware container and have your child practice writing letters in the sand. Always give them a model to refer to (write out a letter on a piece of paper or an ABC chart works great).


  • Clothespins: Write the letters of your child's name on clothespins and have them practice pinching the letters to a piece of paper in order.

As always, keep things SHORT (ten minutes or less) and FUN!

5 Easy, Fun Ways to Practice Your Child's Name

Kinesthetic Learning (or tactile learning) occurs when children learn by carrying out a physical activity. This type of learning is SO important for young children and is extremely beneficial for early literacy development.

Here are some great ways to kinesthetically practice your child's name:

1. Clap the letters in your child's name as you spell it

2. Put your child's name to a song! You can easily switch out the letters to Bingo to practice your child's first or last name! Clap, snap or pat each letter as you spell it! 

3. Snap the letters and "whisper spell" your child's name or pat the letters on your legs and yell them out loud!

4. Make up a cheer! Raise a fist into the air each time you say a letter, then shout it once you've spelled it! 

5. Sign language! Signing the letters in your child's name is an amazing way to practice!

Remember, limit your practice time to 10-15 minutes to keep your child engaged. Keep it fun!

Encouraging Independent Learning at Home

Working with your child on schoolwork at home sounds great in theory...but with everyone's busy schedules, that can be tricky to do! Here are some easy ways for your child to work independently at home:


1. Young children love to mimic what they see their parents do.  Set up a "desk" for them (if you have a desk or office, put theirs near yours so they get the feeling that their work is important). When they are at their desk, remind them you won't be bothering them because you know they are doing important work. 


2. Allow your child to use special "tools" when working at his desk. Pens, notebooks, skinny markers-things he might not typically be permitted to use but because he is doing his "work," he can. 


3. Make special privileges for doing work. "Well, usually you would need to go to bed now, but if you are working I will let you stay up ten extra minutes." 


4. Always refer to it as "work." Kids pick up very quickly when someone does not take them seriously. The more you act like what they are doing is important (and it is!!!) the more they will want to do it. 


5. Keep it SHORT- ten to fifteen minutes-then that attention span is gone! You'll get the best quality work if you keep things short and sweet!