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Learning is the name of the game

Names are really important to children in the Reception class, and the letters of their names are probably those most children learn first, so they provide a good starting point for contextualising phonics.

Everyday I take the first letter of the name of a pupil in the class, usually the one who is designated to fetch the register that day, and we think of words beginning with the first letter of his or her name. This helps get through quite a lot of letters and the children are really interested in doing it.

We often put all the children's first names in a basket. One child then picks out a name, but covers up all but the first letter. The others have to guess whose name it is - and later on perhaps spell it. This helps them with their writing and later on they will learn that there is a capital letter at the beginning of the name.

I also encourage them to write their names a lot. One way of doing this is to cut off the tops of all the pages of their handwriting books except the back cover. I then write their name on the top of the back cover so they can always see it.

Before they do any handwriting children have to write their name five times, copying it from what they can see.

Kate Walker, class teacher, Robinsfield Infants School, London Borough of Westminster

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