Upper vs. lower case letters first

Marnie Danielson, MS OTR/L

This topic is frequently asked by teachers and therapists around the country, “Do you teach upper or lower case letters first?” There is no right answer to this question, but here is my attempt:

Teaching upper case first: When working with students, I almost always teach upper case letters first. I suggest Alphabet Beats UPPERCASE Letters to teachers and parents and create a ABUprogram for that class or student.

Upper case letters are bigger and easier to form for kids with motor control and motor planning issues. Visually they may be easier to form as well. I typically do not teach upper and lower case letters together when working with children with special needs.

Teaching lowercase letters first:   If a child has age appropriate fine motor skills (at a 6 year ABLlevel), then it is OK to begin teaching lower case letters first if that is your preference. Sometimes I prefer teaching lower case letters first if a child has visual discrimination issues that need to be addressed.   I use the Alphabet Beats lower case letters program.   The lower case forms are more specific than the upper case letter forms. Therefore they may be easier to identify for these kiddos.

Motivation: If a child is very motivated to learn lower case letters before upper case, I go for it! We all share the goal to make learning easy and fun. A child’s motivation is a key element to doing this.  Happy Writing!


Parent and teacher teamwork–a must for your child with special needs!

Susan Ellis - head shot

Having two boys on the Autism Spectrum, I am reminded on a daily basis that they have difficulty understanding things the first time being presented. As with most children with Autism (as well as those with Down syndrome, ADHD, or other special needs), visuals and repetition are the best keys to helping them learn.

My boys always have a hard time with auditory processing and giving their complete focus in a typical “gen-ed” classroom.   Even if the teacher presents items visually, all the classroom activity can be overwhelming and lessons don’t “sink in” the first time.

In 2nd grade, subjects like social studies and science tend to become more abstract. This can be very difficult for children with special needs who are typically “concrete” thinkers. I have found great success when I can take just 15 minutes to pre-teach them new material over the weekend.   Reviewing a new concept by reading the chapter together in a quiet room, doing a quick reinforcing activity, or even finding a short video about it online, can make a big difference in their confidence and attentiveness in class on Monday. The repetition of hearing the material again, and in a different way, will also help children better retain this knowledge.

Having an extra copy of your child’s textbooks at home is very helpful for pre-teaching and reviewing throughout the week. Talk with your teachers and ask them to give you the topic and chapter they will be covering the following week. It will be a win-win for everyone.

NOTE: When using our TV Teacher handwriting program, make a copy of the auditory chants we use (located inside the DVD case) and share them among your parent/teacher team. This way, both team members are able to help reinforce the language and correct formation as the child learns to write his letters.

reading with childFor more information about The TV Teacher’s award-winning handwriting programs, please visit our website: www.thetvteacher.com