Teaching your preschooler to recognize and then write uppercase or capital letters is a key to early handwriting success. Many, if not most of the commercially-available workbooks (and preschool teacher handouts) teach them at the same time. Zaner-Bloser is a common style of handwriting instruction that uses this approach. If your child has been identified as having visual-perceptual issues, this pattern of instruction could be the most difficult for him to use. Here is why you teach capital letters first and exclusively for the very youngest children, regardless of whether a child has learning differences:
- capitals are created with bold, easy-to-identify lines and curves. They are also easier to write than lowercase letters if you are a young child or have difficulty controlling a crayon or pencil. Lowercase letters are smaller and less easily differentiated and more easily reversed. Example: B, D, P, G versus b, d, p, g. Teaching these lowercase letters together for a child with limited visual discrimination skills will unintentionally hobble their learning from the start.
- Your child will start to write all capitals begin in the same location: at the top. Less confusion when you are learning to write means less frustration and faster learning. Changing poor writing habits is very difficult, even in the early grades. Automaticity begins earlier than most parents realize. Start with the most efficient letter formation, and you have fewer bad habits to erase.
- Learn capitals well, and your child will recognize and write 25% of the lowercase alphabet immediately (c, o, s, v, w, x, y, z) , and there are 5 additional letters that are very similar to their uppercase counterparts ( j, k, t, p, u) that can be recognized and written without too much additional effort. Learning starts to snowball, and your child thinks that this handwriting thing is really easy-peasy!
If children learn to write legibly from the beginning they have more attention available to use for composition or calculation. Give your child the gift of fast and legible writing, “write” from the start!
What are your suggestions for a beginner who’s finding capitals (especially vertical lines) far more difficult than lower-case, and who has noticed this, and who is complaining about it? He correctly observes that the vast majority of what people write (and read, and keyboard) is lower-case.
Let me think about that one…a situation that I haven’t ever encountered in very young children.
This is a very young, but very smart, boy. He already reads (and completely understands what he’s reading, at least when it’s stuff he’d understand if he heard it spoken). He has suffered to some extent from a teacher who made fun of him for pointing out that almost all writing isn’t capitals, because the teacher had unthinkingly assumed otherwise until the kid pointed it out, which embarrassed her into telling him (incorrectly) that he was wrong.
shame is never helpful. I won’t comment on cases through my blog, but I would never recommend shaming a child and expect success.