handwriting · OT · slice of life

Uppercase & Lowercase Letters

Isabelle copies her full name on the back of a picture she colored for her OT.
Isabelle copies her full name on the back of a picture she colored for her OT.

My daughter’s occupational therapist does a progress monitoring every 12 weeks. Today was the day to review Isabelle’s goals to see whether or not she’s met them, and to set new ones. We had a big decision: keep working with uppercase letters or set a new goal for lowercase letters. You see, my kiddo turns five next month (HOW DID THAT HAPPEN!?!??)  so it’s “time” for her to start using lowercase letters in her writing. But… she’s not ready. At least not yet.

While she can comfortably write the letters in her name in uppercase, she isn’t as independent with letters that aren’t in her name. Even though it looks like she’s mastered the letters when she uses apps like Letter School, Ready to Print, and Writing Wizard, she hasn’t mastered making all of the uppercase letters on paper. Letter School is the best with the gradual release of responsibility, but the transference to paper isn’t there since a blank sheet of paper doesn’t remind you where your pen should go!

“Do you want to include lowercase letters in her goal now that she’s turning five?” Jena repeated.

I thought a little more. We push-push-push Isabelle so much. And she rises to the occasion nearly ever time. But this isn’t something I wanted to push yet.

“Can we put it off another three months?” I asked.

“Yes. But we should include it in her next set of goals,” Jena replied. “She’s going to need to know her lowercase letters once she goes to Kindergarten. We need to start working on them soon.

“Okay,” I said. I could live with that.

So instead of setting a lowercase letter goal, we set an uppercase letter goal that Isabelle would begin to copy words with a variety of uppercase letters. In fact, she started just moments after the goal was written.

Isabelle had colored a couple of pictures while I was speaking with Jena. On the back of the pictures, Jena asked Isabelle to write “To: Jena” and then she had to write her full name (first, middle, and last, which is a total of 23 letters!). It was a lot of work, but Isabelle did it with minimal complaints and a reasonable degree of accuracy. In fact, she was VERY proud of herself for being able to write all of those letters on the back of her coloring page. She even posed for a photo holding up her paper with all of the writing.

That’s when I knew we set the right goal. All kids need to feel successful. They need attainable short-term goals they can accomplish rather than being frustrated by goals that are too hard.

A lot can change in three months. And besides, being 5 1/4 isn’t too old — at least not in my book — to start working on lowercase letters.

Head over to http://twowritingteachers.wordpress.com  for more slices of life.
Head over to http://twowritingteachers.wordpress.com for more slices of life.

14 thoughts on “Uppercase & Lowercase Letters

  1. Stacey,
    Isabelle is so lucky that you make such thoughtful decisions. Her comfort level is critical and honoring that is MORE important than racing through a whole bunch of outside demands. After all, she isn’t even five YET! She’ll be fine!

  2. It seems to me that you will know when she’s ready, & surely it isn’t such a big deal, is it? There are so many other wonderful things to do, aren’t there? I realize there are different expectations in different areas, so I still think it’s your call, Stacey.

  3. I think you made the right choice. So often we tend to push children ahead when they are not ready. I know I found myself teaching things to me sixth grade students that they should have mastered in previous years but didn’t because they had to move forward.

  4. As a parent, you need to make the best decisions you can for your child. My nephew learned to “read” street signs when he was 3. (He is now 24.) My granddaughter is just now learning to recognize a few letters and numbers at the same age. When they are ready, they will go for it! Just take it easy and move along. Have fun!

    1. If there’s anything being a parent has taught me, it’s that children will develop at their own pace. We can push and push, but if they’re not ready for _____ (whatever that may be), then we can’t push them there faster.

      Thanks for the reminder to “have fun!” That, too, is important.

  5. I feel the pressure, too. My son, Alex, is five already, as you know, but will go to kindergarten next year. His preschool practices letters a lot, both uppercase and lowercase. As a former kindergarten teacher, I always recommended teaching kids their name in lowercase except of course for their first letter. It was hard to break the habit of all uppercase letters. Many preschools used to just teach uppercase. When I taught kindergarten, we used Fundations which teaches all the lowercase letters first and then the uppercase letters. In Alex’s case, he really needs more strengthening to be able to write letters correctly. I wish he could just play with play dough and paint to strengthen those skills playfully, but the pressure is there that kids will be “behind” in kindergarten if they don’t practice handwriting in preschool. As Isabelle’s first and best teacher, you are doing what is best for her at this time!

  6. We have kindergartners who do not yet use or write or even know how to form lowercase letters. Important to meet them where they are. Isabelle is lucky to have parents who consider where she is and what she is ready for, and who are willing to put the calendar aside, at least for a little while.

  7. Stacey, being a parent is filled with decision-making. You made a wise decision not to push Isabelle yet. There is always time for moving further on. When you think in terms of time, three months is not so long away.

  8. Stacey, I made the instant connection to Peter Johnston’s growth mindset when you said she wasn’t ready yet. The part I loved though was when you said you weren’t ready yet. I loved thinking about the parent side of yet to complement what we want for our kids based on knowing when to push and how much. I was happy to see that you felt confidence in your decision with the result of the writing at the end of the session.

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