What’s in a name?

As your young child begins school, one of the first skills she will practice is writing her name.  But even before school starts, young children want to be able to spell and write their names.  As with all skills, practice (and patience!) makes perfect.  Your little one will take great pride in being able to sign her papers or label her belongings, so guided practice is very helpful.  During my years in the pre-K and kindergarten classrooms, I developed an easy and helpful way to teach children how to write their names.  This teaching aide can be constructed in two ways - one way allows your child to trace over the letters you have written.  Once this is accomplished, you can introduce a second style of worksheet that allows your child to copy a writing sample while making each letter on his own.  So grab a piece of unlined paper and a sharpie marker and follow these directions for creating name writing worksheets that will have your child legibly writing her name in no time!

Step 1 - Name tracing worksheet.

  • Take a piece of unlined white paper and divide it into four fairly equal segments by drawing three lines across the paper.  Then clearly print your child’s name in each rectangle using a black permanent marker.  If your child is just beginning, use all uppercase letters.
  • Staple a clean piece of white paper behind your sample and ask your child to trace each letter as you name it.  The staples keep the pages lined up and help avoid undue frustration.
  • Then tear off her practice sheet to display or share with family members, but retain your sample page for additional tracing practice.

Once our child is comfortable tracing your sample, move to the next step which involves providing only one writing sample as a guide.

Step 2 - Name copying worksheet.

  • Using a black marker, write your child’s name clearly at the bottom of a piece of white paper.  Then flip the paper over so that the paper is face down on the table with the name at the top of the page.  Next fold the name over so that it appears at the top of the page.  Now draw two evenly spaced lines across the blank paper that is showing under the name to provide three writing spaces for your child to practice writing her name.  Ask her to write her name in the space directly under your written sample, using your sample as a guide.
  • After your child has written her name, refold the paper to cover her writing and position your sample directly above the next empty rectangle.
  • Again refold the paper to position your writing sample directly above the last empty rectangle.
  • Allow your child to practice copying her name on several additional worksheets of this style.

When your child seems comfortable copying your writing sample, ask her to continue practicing by placing a writing sample on a separate card and place the card several inches above her practice page.  It takes a little practice to look at a sample away from the writing page and transfer the word to a separate paper.

Step 3 - Allow your child to practice writing her name independently.

I am often asked whether lined or unlined paper is best for young children.  My colleagues in primary education sometimes had varying views on this subject, but I will share my view here.  I found that initial practice with name writing worked best when unlined paper was provided.  (The lines you create on the name copying sheet are simply to designate each empty writing space.)  As children become more comfortable with this fine motor skill, lines can be added to refine letter formation and placement.  But I believe that children feel more successful as they first learn to write when no lines are given and correct letter formation and correct order of letters in words is the expectation.

Manipulating a pencil to produce specific marks on a page can be quite challenging for little ones.  For added practice, ask your child to complete some of the 40 fine motor tracing worksheets.


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