This originally appeared on the Marion & Polk Early Learning Hub Blog here.

When you were thinking of names for your child…what was important to you?  Was family and tradition the deciding factor?  Did religious meaning or historical figures have a role?  Perhaps you were thinking of close friends or just wanted your child’s name to sound unique.  Whatever their name, your child seems to take special note whenever they hear it.  Before they can even speak or recognize most words they understand their name and that when you use it your attention is directed to them.A young child’s name has special meaning to them.  It is how they differentiate themselves from others.  They seem to love hearing it, seeing it and saying it over and over.  Some children take great pride in being able to say their first middle and last name to people who ask.  It is also one of the first words they learn to read and write. Recognizing each of the individual letters in their name is a great way for them to learn the alphabet.

As a parent you can use their name to really build and strengthen their early literacy and writing skills.  Write their name over and over in big letters with lots of colors.  Put up signs or arrange blocks with the letters of their name in their room.  Say their name often and spell the letters of their name over and over again emphasizing each one.  Write the first letter of their name in a bright bold color and then ask them to trace that letter in a different color to create a rainbow effect.  The more they see their name and know what letters make it up the stronger and more confident they will get with that part of the alphabet.  Once they have mastered a part of the alphabet it will be much easier for them to start reading, recognizing and printing the other letters of the alphabet as well.  Then as they enter Kindergarten and go through school, not only will you be proud to see their name written with confidence and style at the top of their paper…you’ll probably also like the letter grades written next to it too!

This is fatherhood…