Writing names has to begin with identifying your name and knowing the letters in your name. Many first year students come into class without this knowledge. In the mornings when the children come in I have them sign in, just like their parents, to practice writing their names. First I have the name printed next to their picture, laminated, and a magnet stuck onto the back to use at the feelings chart or the question of the day. Children move their name to the place that answers the question. I also keep laminated names at the play dough table to students can use play dough to “write” their name. We also write our names in sand trays, shaving cream, sandpaper, oblick, and other sensory activities for a multi-sensory experience.
When I see that the children have learned to identify their name, I bring out a laminated “sign in” sheet with 2 to 4 names for the children to find their name (still with their picture next to it) and sign in with a dry erase marker, tracing over the name. This then progresses to a written sign in sheet without their pictures or the tracing, as well as having them write their own names on their papers. *For children who still needed help with their names I kept a key ring of all the names at the writing table, the art easel, and other places they might write their name, this helps build independence.
Very quickly these students are writing their names, knowing the alphabet and numbers, even adding. This usually happens by January, and I know about it because the kids that really know how to write their names very well will begin writing their name very dramatically and using much of the space. At this time I begin having them “sign in” in ways that are much more about learning other things while still getting the practice to write their names: for example the question of the day, signing up for the computer or bikes, and other activities.
By respecting the children’s ability and interest children will learn to write their name much better. Giving meaning to using your name is also important.