How Children Learn Their Names: 4 Stages
Whether your precious little one was blessed with a family name, vintage name, novel name, or something totally unique, “what is your name?” is often the first question they get asked. As such, it becomes one of the primary self-identifiers they commit to memory!
The importance of a name to a young child can be highlighted by the most frequent way they answer the question “who are you?” (“I’m Sophia!” “I’m Luke!”).
There are four stages most children go through to learn their names:
1 – Understanding
From amazingly young ages, children can recognize their native tongue and will favor words spoken in their language.* Because of the way that parents instinctively repeat it, a child’s name is probably among the first words they come to understand.
2 – Shape Recognition
Even before alphabetic awareness, children will learn to recognize their name. Without breaking it down into units (or letters), the shape and size of their name can become recognizable. “That says Billie!” “That means Rachel!” This skill can be strengthened in their daycare or childcare experience where we label everything with a child’s name (at Creative World, we use children’s pictures AND names to help them out even more!).
3 – Spelling
PreK students (4-5 year olds) are earning enough mastery of the letters of the alphabet that they can begin to recognize letter units. In our classes, we do a lot of alphabetic awareness activities that revolve around our name: writing it, combining individual letters to spell it, playing with alphabet blocks, group letter/name games, and more. These fun-filled methods are covert ways to help your child learn how to recognize and spell their name.
4 – Writing
As fine motor skills develop, it’s amazing to see that the way children have been finger-painting, scribbling, tracing, squishing, and even pinching become strong building blocks for their writing skills. Transcribing their name is one of the first great writing achievements for a young child! But we don’t start or stop with a pen and paper: writing skills evolve with many activities, like forming words out of play-dough, tracing on sensory trays, using string to create letters, and more.