Which Letters Did You Teach First?

Updated on June 16, 2012
A.E. asks from Waukee, IA
23 answers

I was wondering what letters you first taught to the kids first when they are learning how to write? Did you do uppercase or lowercase, how about which letters did you teach together?
We are to that point and we recognize most letters now so want to really go through on teaching how to write them too!

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answers from Dallas on

There is a developmental teaching order of teaching alphabets while teaching to write.
Only exception would be alphabets in the name of a child.
Upper case first and lower case as upper case are easier. There is lot of details www.writetoshine.com

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

I started with my children's whole names. The uppercase where it was necessary and lowercase for the rest....and then started at the beginning with the 'A' when we had mastered their first, middle and last names!

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answers from Chicago on

I am a kindergarten teacher. Before we start teaching letter writing, we teach all how to write all of the lines and shapes. Straight vertical or horizontal, like for T, curves, like for C and D, and slants, like for X. Once kids know how to make all these lines and shapes, they should be able to join them to make any letter. So it doesn't matter in what order, just teach them in ABC order. What's more important for letter formation at this age is the correct grip. Make sure you get a tri-shaped pencil or large pencil, or better yet use a fat marker because the kids don't have to push as hard.

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answers from Jacksonville on

Not sure if it is what you have in mind or not, but I used the "Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons" to teach my kids to read. My daughter started at around 3 1/2. My son was closer to 4 yrs old.

The workbook begins with (if i remember correctly) the letter "m". Every new sound (letter) that they learn, they simultaneously learn to write it. The book uses type style letterings. So the "a" looks like just what I typed in this sentence, not a circle with a stick beside it. By the end of the 100 lessons, it also has taught them the complete alphabet in both upper and lowercase letters. And they are reading quite fluently.

I know you were asking only about writing the letters, but I did it simultaneously with the reading/sounding out/phonics and it didn't add any work to it. It was some of my daughter's favorite parts of the lessons. Instead of pencil and paper, we used a magna-doodle. :)

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answers from Hartford on

When teaching letters at home, we actually intentionally taught the girls the letters for their names first so that they could spell their names. When children enter preschool, they're not really expected to know the alphabet but it's considered a great head start if they can recognize their own name. That's what our local preschools' approaches are, so that's what we followed.

From there, we sang the alphabet song and did alphabet games. We read a lot. The girls would "read" traffic signs. They learned a lot naturally through rote memory and learning toys, learning programs, games we played, etc.

But honestly, I didn't push hard. My eldest was a self-taught reader by the time preschool started, reading and comprehending at a 3rd grade level. Now in sixth grade she's reading high school level. My middle daughter wasn't reading until the end of kindergarten, beginning of first grade. Now in third grade, she's almost at 3rd grade level. My youngest daughter started first grade with some sight words but now reads everything in sight. :-) She's just above grade level and into second grade reading level.

The key is figuring out what your child's pace is and where their interests are.

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answers from Boston on

Most people get a basic book from a teaching resource store. Most people teach capitals, but basically anything a child does is great - upside down, sideways, a mix of upper & lower case, etc.

I would start with headlines in a newspaper or big signs on stores - see if the child can identify the letters rather than worry about writing them.

I would teach the ABC song and/or get a classic series of DVDs like Sesame Street.

If I were teaching letters, I would group them by the ways you create the letters: B and P and R, I and T, O and Q, or do the opposites: A/V, W/M, then show I/C/D which are sort of combinations of each other.

It's great to just let the child duplicate what she/he sees. There are plenty of books where the child traces the letters 4 or 5 times, then tries them alone.

I also think it depends SO MUCH on the age of the child - there is absolutely no premium in forcing this on a young child, particularly one who cannot even manipulate a pencil! In preschool, they need to learn to sit in a circle, transition from one activity to another, and negotiate their own space without whacking the next kid. I see plenty of kids in elementary school who have been pushed academically and just don't have the social skills - they wind up repeating kindergarten. So don't push it - there is no payoff. Only do it if the child is really interested.



answers from Chicago on

The vowels should be first. They are the most common of all of the letters and appear in every word. :) Please teach your child both the upper and lower case letters.

Teach your child how to write their name correctly, from the beginning. Use both upper and lower case letters. Kids love to write Mom, Dad and love. They of course love writing their own name too.

Proper pencil holding is also important. If your child cannot hold a pencil properly, to form the letters, you should teach them that first. Start with making circles and straight lines. Using a pencil is a fine motor skill. This ability comes at different times for young children. Making flowers is a great exercise. Make the stem a stick and make the flower out of several circles (or just one when you are beginning). The sun is also a good exercise. A large circle with lines coming out all around it. You can hold your hand over your child's hand (when starting out) and show them how it's done. There are small pencil grips that you can buy that will slid on any pencil. They help your child hold the pencil in a good position to write.

Remember that just because your child can spell his/her name out loud for you does not mean that they will get the letters correct on paper. Even after they recognize the letters in their name, it will take time for your child to write each letter separately, in the correct order. Once they learn each letter in their name continue to call out what letter is first, second, and so on as they write. This may take a long time before they master it going from their brain to the paper. Patience is going to be needed. Do not force your child to write letters if they would rather draw pictures. Drawing is the first step to learning how to write. Good luck!


answers from Redding on

I taught my kids how to write their names first, and included the lesson of uppercase and lower case and when/how/why they are used, then we tackled mom and dad's name, and then we tackled the entire alphabet.



answers from Philadelphia on

Chek out the book "how to teach your child to read 100 easy lessons". It is an outstanding book that will help teach your child the sounds of the letters as well as writing them. I personally did not use the writing lessons though.


answers from New York on

I think vowels are taught first - a-e-i-o and sometimes y


answers from Austin on

We started with the first letter of her first name and then her last name.

Be sure to work on some fine motor skills to build up those muscles. before you start the writing.. . Look it up on Google.. Your child will think you are just playing together, but these therapy's are strengthening his hands and wrists.



answers from Boston on

with both of my kids I taught them the letters in there name first then moved on to other letters



answers from Minneapolis on

I taught her how to write her name. Uppercase at first and now she writes it correctly. Also taught her her last name. Then just small words she wanted to learn and people's names she wanted to learn. Mostly uppercase since it's easier to stick to just that for now. They will work on it quite a bit once she starts kindergarten.



answers from Boise on

As you can see, there are many ideas people have for teaching methods. It would be wise to do your homework and use a clinically proven method, rather than shoot in the dark. Reading programs based on Orton/ Gillingham are the best choices. There are a few popular programs available today which always come up in suggestions, some are good, and some leave the child ill equipped.

I am a tutor as well as homeschool mom and I took teaching seminars with a popular California curriculum called SPELL TO WRITE AND READ (SWR). It has a companion program called CURSIVE FIRST.(CF).

I have also been exposed to 'Handwriting Without Tears', and used 'Teach your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons.' Both of these have issues. First off, both of these programs were initially developed for use with special needs kids who had learning or motor disabilities. If you have a child with a reasonable intelligence and good motor movement there is no reason to use a program below their ability. Use a program that will match or even slightly challenge their skill level so they can grow.

Handwriting without Tears, simply put, gives the child a box and wants them to place the ball and stick letter in the parameters of the box. I had a mom who brought it with her kids that I was babysitting and had them do it while at my house. My observation was that the children did not spend a great deal of time in perfecting the letters.

Cursive First has the child learn to write, not in a 2 inch box, but on lined paper. This is a more natural format, they way they have been teaching for hundreds of years. First he will learn to do certain shapes in sand with his finger. Then you will teach correct pencil grip and posture, foot placement, arm placement on the table, and even the placement of the other hand and the angle of the paper. Nothing has been left to guesswork and is all outlined in the curriculum. A regular size pencil is the size to use, NEVER a large crayon or marker. You cannot form precise small movements with these large implements, and all children will revert to holding them with a fist grip because you cannot get a comfortable pencil grip hold on them. Just try as an adult to write a letter to a freind with them using a pencil grip! They are useless for writing. Pencils are tools, and they were built with the perfect demensions in mind for that purpose. Not the big fat pencils, but the standard size pencil which sits naturally in the hand in a pencil grip. When the child is in preschool and drawing, these big crayons /pens are fine. When the child is to sit down and be formally tutored in forming letters, about 6-7 yrs old, these should never be used. With Cursive First your child learns the strokes through repetition and practice, not copying inside a box. He uses his mind to train his hand how they are formed, always starting at the baseline and USING THE BASELINE and the dotted line as a gauge to form the letter. Some letters will go below the baseline or meet at the baseline, some, like an h, will go up above the dotted line. These need to be taught and that concept is lost in a program that simply desires you to fit the letter in a box. When the child moves on to write on paper, he will have nothing to use as a means to guide him. He will no doubt want to write ball and stick. By the time my kids were in 4th grade, they had to write paragraphs. Cursive is much faster to form than manuscript and writing was easier. Ball and stick makes you lift your pencil up off the paperand restart. Cursive does not. Also, because my two children learned cursive first, they were ahead of the game. Instead of spending hours now learning cursive in 3rd grade, they already knew it and were using that time on other subjects.
There are 4 or 5 basic strokes in cursive and once the child knows those basics he can form any letter. Cursive writing actually has less strokes than manuscript. In addition, this program has flash cards. It will tell you exactly what letter to start with( which would be the easiest one to form), then moving to the most difficult ones after, with capitals at the end. If you use SWR at the same time, the letter sounds can be taught concurrent with the letter formation.

I taught my first child to read and write with a different curriculum (and I taught manuscript/capitals first since that is what the public schools taught and they must know best, right?). After several years of teaching and learning the SWR program, I used SWR with the Cursive First to teach my second and third child.
I did see a dramatic difference in the outcome. The child who was taught manuscript first still tends to revert back to manuscript, and to place manuscript letters in with her cursive. She also puts in capitals where they need not be. Her writing tends to be messy.
The children who were taught cursive first have beautiful penmanship and automatically write in cursive. There is no injection of manuscript in their writing. It is known through research that whatever your brain learns first will be what you want to revert back to.

I taught my first child to read with "Teach Your Kids to Read in 100 Easy Lessons". I did not know about the origins of the program or the author when I chose it. Like many new moms, I was not confident in my teaching ability at the time and wanted something 'easy'. This program teaches the child to ignore silent letters, and just pretend they wern't there, rather than teach the reason as to WHY we have silent letters and how those silent letters canchange the sound of other letters in the word. For example , we have silent E for 5 different reasons. Once you know those reasons, you can not only learn to read the word, but you will know how to spell the word as well. There are several phonograms (letter/vowel combinations) that are missing in this book. (and no spelling rules at all.) When you get to the end of it, he says you should go out and finish learning them somewhere else. What? How do you teach someone to partially read and then say go find the rest of the info somewhere else. That is because his method has holes. It doesnt follow spelling rules or proven reading methods. Upon my research I learned the author did not have formal training in tutoring/teaching special ed methods when he wrote this book. I hate to say it but I have then seen his method being used in many public schools, and not on only special ed kids but across the board. Is there any wonder why our kids today are having to go to outside tutoring classes in record numbers? Thirty years ago we didn't have tutoring shops on every corner. Because the schools had not fully turned themselves over to embracing these special ed teaching methods. 100 years ago cursive was taught first in public schools. 100 years ago a 6th grader had the educational level of a high school graduate / entry college level student of today.

SWR teaches the child to read recognizig the sounds of the consonants with one sound first, then the consonants with two sounds (s can say s or z, ...c can say K or S....and finally it moves on to vowels , which can have up to 3 sounds ( A says.. a, A, ah) and finally moving to phonograms..starting with simple sounds like ee, oo....moving to the ones with 4 sounds or 4 letters, last. It has flash cards with no fancy pictures which distract, just the shape of the letter which is shown in a lower case book style. (the same font you would see if you were reading a book). Each card is scripted on the back so the teacher knows exactly what to say, and repeats the same verbiage every time, enforcing the concept. It also has a set of spelling rule flash cards, also scripted on the back. There is a book that goes with it that tells you at what point in the program to start teaching which spelling rule, which phongram, etc....

When a young child , preschool age, is desiring to form letters, it is ok to teach them how to write their name in lowercase manuscript. But once formal teaching is needed (and the brain is ready, about 6 yrs old average, maybe a little older for boys) I recommend a method with prooven success.



answers from Sacramento on

In kinder here they teach letter recognition and phonics together. I don't remember which ones they start with, but I do know that they teach lower case first because as soon as kids can recognize lower case letters easily, they can learn to read.

As far as writing, they used a system called Writing Without Tears. It groups the letters into similar writing patterns, for example "Starting Corner Capitals" are HKLUVWXYZ. "Diver Letters" are: prnmhb. In both examples you can see how the structure of the letters in terms of how they are written is the same from where you start to where you finish.

Good luck!


answers from Kansas City on

i am with most of the others, i taught my son how to write his name. i did however, teach it in all capitals, and his preschool teacher, when he started, had to reteach it with lower case. (after the first capital letter, of course). she said it's a common thing, for parents to automatically teach their children uppercase, since it's easier. but they don't let them write it that way in school. anyway, i'd start with his name. Capital first letter, then lower case for the rest :)



answers from Miami on

I remember when my daughter was in preschool they created each letter in a big piece of construction paper. And they put both upper and lower cases and then pictures of items that began with that letter. Like A had an Apple etc. Then they would get practice material sheets to write the letter over and over. Also on the computer I got jump start kids. It teaches letters, colors, shapes. But its fun for them. I only use that for reinforcement though do not believe young kids that age need that much computer time.



answers from Columbus on

There are some fun write on/wipe off books that just have curves and lines and shapes to trace, and there are paper books like that with cutting activities. Both help them get ready to write. I kind of think these are better than jumping right into letters, but when you do letters, I agree it should be a word they're excited to write, and that's usually their name.



answers from Savannah on

For learning the letters by sight, I showed them the capital and lowercase together. For writing, I taught capital letters in order because we sang the song as we pointed them out, and we left the lowercase for a little later. We would see "A" first and then for days we'd draw A, or make an A with playdoh, or sticks, or lining up pebbles to make the letter, or point out A in signs or license plates, etc. Then B, and we worked through that way. I'm not a professional or expert, it just is what made sense to me. Also, as we started getting further along in the alphabet, we had a big alphabet train floor puzzle and we'd put the pieces in and sing the song, it was just fun. While at it, we'd say "A, like apple, alligator, acrobat", and so on---we'd play a game where I'd say a word that started with an a sound, and then he'd come up with one, back and forth. That way there was a little phonetic learning as we did the letters. We did lowercase afterwards. We also watched the letter factory, played with the alphabet fridge magnets and all that. His name was the first word he learned to write though.



answers from Chicago on

Whatever letters my daughter wants to write.



answers from Minneapolis on

I am both a mother and a preschool teacher. At home, I did not teach the letters in any formal order. I read to my sons from the time they were 3 months old, and some of the books we read were alphabet books. My first child learned the letters on his own from alphabet books, magnets, and puzzles. My second one did the same, although a little bit more slowly.

At school, I teach kids the first letter of their name, as a capital letter. I also teach a letter per week, starting with either the easiest letters to write (O, T, L, etc.) or the easiest letter sounds to say (mmmm, sssss, rrrrrrr, ooooo, etc.).

I teach the letter sound at the same time that I teach the capital and lowercase versions of the letter. I try to say the sounds as closely as possible as you would say them in a word. For example, I don't teach the sound for B as "buh" because that makes it harder to sound out words. I would say "b" with as little vocalization as possible after the b. (I hope that makes sense. Another example -- it's not "muh" for M, it's "mmmm".)



answers from Seattle on

He was reading before he learned to write, so he chose. First was his name, then the names of myself, Nonna, papa, the cat, etc.



answers from Chicago on

My kids wanted to learn the letters in their name, so that's where we started.

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