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!