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!