The Early Years: It's all in a name
By: Deb Archer for the Lake County News-Chronicle, Lake County News Chronicle
Once the initial shock of realizing you are going to be a parent has passed, one of the topics that surfaces almost instantly is: What are we going to name the baby? Over the next nine months, the topic of baby’s name comes up almost daily. This is the first big decision parents make. What an awesome responsibility!
Once the baby arrives, the whole name issue is over. For the first year or so, we talk to our babies, calling them by name hundreds of times a day. It should not come as a shock that the first word a child learns to read is his or her name, and we can facilitate the process of helping our children recognize their names through a variety of activities.
Writing young childrens’ names on special books, toys, a favorite plate or their bedroom door is a great way to start. When you carry them to their rooms, point to the words on the door, “Alex’s room.” When they show interest, you can even start to point out the different letters in their names— “A” for Alex. You will be surprised at how quickly your children will take ownership of “their” letters. Point out their names everywhere you see them. While driving around town, point out signs you see that have their letters. You can do the same with words on boxes of cereal or kitchen items. Point out book titles that start with letters from their names as well.
At preschool, we make name cards for all the kids. When it is time for snack or lunch, we place them at different tables so the kids have to find their names to know where to sit. It amazes me how quickly a child learns what his or her name looks like and which letters make up their friends’ names! At home, parents and grandparents can use index cards to make name tags for members of the family. They can be used as place cards around the dinner table.
It is exciting for parents to watch a child realize that a mark on a paper means something, and to see that understanding grow over time. Before long, a child will want to know how to make and experiment with these letters. This is a good time to invest in refrigerator letter magnets.
These are some very basic letter and name recognition ideas you can try with the children in your life. From here, the sky’s the limit! If we can get our children excited about learning letters and words even before they get to school, we are well on our way to helping them be successful in their years of learning to come.
Deb Archer is a licensed teacher, parent educator and owner of Kickstart Preschool in Two Harbors.