One thing that we do as college students who are placed in the field throughout the semester is observe. We observe the teachers, we observe the students, we observe the environment, we observe all day long. I was recently placed in my new field placement for the fall of 2019. Since then, I have begun observing and engaging in a preschool classroom for 4 hours a day, one day a week, that will carry out for 10 weeks.
The first day that I was there, I focused primarily on observing the environment and curriculum. I usually take this time to get to know the class schedule, the student’s daily routine, and the curriculum. This time specifically, I observed that the students arrive at 8:30am, and they have breakfast when they first arrive. Then, they move into morning activities. This consists of tracing their name on a sheet and then moving to the carpet with a book until the morning message. The morning message is a time for the students to say good morning to their teacher and one another. As the day moves on, the students interact with a read a loud, which are followed by a station rotation activity later in the day. Between these two, the students walk about two blocks to their playground in order to engage in an hour of active play a day.
One question that I have created while observing and interacting in a preschool for the last three weeks is, “What are the benefits of having a child learn to spell their name at such an early age?” I have been in some placements where the students are in first grade and are struggling to spell their names, while now I am in a preschool room and these students are doing work based around their name everyday, hoping to commit the spelling of their names to memory.
When going about researching this topic, I decided to broaden my question to “what is the impact of writing in a preschool curriculum.” This led me to many different discoveries. While researching writing in a preschool classroom, I found one article that led me to another, that led me to another.
In my first article, Emergent Name-Writing Abilities of Preschool-Age Children With Language Impairment, there was an entire section about name – writing among typically developing children. It spoke mostly about the importance of emergent writing and all of the ideas that go into it. As I read further, there was a quote that this article used from another journal that really stood out to me. It reads, “name writing represents one component of the broader construct of emergent writing and is viewed by literacy experts to serve as a window into a child’s emergent literacy development” (Ferreiro & Teberosky, 1982). I think this is a great way of showing that it is incredibly important for a student to learn how to write their name at a young age. Name – writing, especially in a preschool setting is crucial because a child’s name is the most important word in the world to them, not to mention the word that they will be writing everyday for the rest of their lives.
As I kept reading this article, I came across another scholarly quote that I really liked. It stated that, “indeed, the “own-name advantage” is a seminal theory of early letter knowledge, with children prone to learn the letters comprising their own name (particularly their first initial) significantly earlier than other letters” (Justice, Pence, Bowles, & Wiggins, 2006). I found this to be very interesting because I have been in placements where they swear by this theory, and I have been in placements where they believed that you learned the alphabet starting with A and ending with Z.
After reading both of these statements, and thinking back to my field placement observations, I think it is safe to say that I strongly believe that students should be learning to write their name as early as possible rather than later. In field this semester, it is incredibly refreshing to see that this is such an important part of their everyday routine. I grew up in a curriculum where you learned the alphabet in order. I would not have known how to spell my name by first grade if it was not for my mother working on letter recognition and spelling with me at home. I will work hard in my future classroom to make my students’ names are a priority.
Cabell, S. Q., Justice, L. M., Zucker, T. A., & Mcginty, A. S. (2009). Emergent Name-Writing Abilities of Preschool-Age Children With Language Impairment. Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, 40(1), 53–66. doi: 10.1044/0161-1461(2008/07-0052)
Ferreiro, E., & Teberosky, A. (1982). Literacy before school. Exeter, NH: Heinemann.
Justice, L. M., Pence, K., Bowles, R. B., & Wiggins, A. (2006). An investigation of four hypotheses concerning the order by which 4-year- old children learn the alphabet letters. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 21, 374–389.