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Learning to read using capitals: Is it an American thing? Why do they do it?

(17 Posts)
melpomene Thu 03-Jul-08 23:19:23

I've heard before that in the US children learn capital letters before learning lower case letters. Several American TV programmes seem to bear this out, eg 'Super Why' which shows the alphabet in capitals and words in capitals.

So, do American children at school generally learn to read and write using capital letters? Do they learn to write their names completely in capitals? And what is the rationale for this? IMO learning to read using (mostly) lower case letters makes far more sense, because most of the text in books and in other places around us is lower case. Plus, words that are in lower case are easier to recognise by shape.

My dds are very big fans of 'Super Why', and dd2 (3) has learnt some letters through watching the programme, but she's learning capitals, and there is more emphasis on the letter names than the letter sounds in the programme, so I think it could be somewhat confusing for her.

Ledodgy Thu 03-Jul-08 23:23:41

I don't know but remember having American penpals when I was around 13 (the school were meant to link us up with french ones but we all got Americans and Italians for some reason!) and they all wrote in Capitals , they were the same age.

melpomene Thu 03-Jul-08 23:26:52

Aged 13? That's pretty strange.

terramum Thu 03-Jul-08 23:50:37

I think one of the ideas of using capitals initially is they are easier to write than lower case letters and so children can pick up writing quicker...which in turn helps them pick up reading easier as well.

harpomarx Thu 03-Jul-08 23:59:27


tigermeow Fri 04-Jul-08 09:47:20

Capitals are easier to write- a fluid hand is needed for lower case.

gladders Mon 07-Jul-08 11:55:59

lol @ harpomax - they start young then! do they have to write "IT'S BIGGER AND BETTER IN THE US OF A!!!"

anotherdayyetanothernickame Thu 17-Jul-08 18:19:09

It looks louder? (shoves hand in mouth and holds hands away from PC before reeling off more American stereotypes!)

Ds learned capitals first and names (from Countdown as I used to watch it with him around - for me not him) and then quickly picked up lower case and sounds so it's not necessarily a problem and he has not been confused by it so far (he's 3.0).
I just showed him the capital and lower case of the same letter together and said big a and little a etc.

allgonebellyup Thu 17-Jul-08 18:26:09

lol at gadders

bigger is better for the Yanks

mrz Fri 18-Jul-08 22:08:39

The theory relates to writing the letters rather than reading them. It is easier for young children to write capital letters because most consist mainly of straight lines

olyoly Sat 19-Jul-08 19:31:23

We are born knowing how to shout, no need to teach us grin We learn upper and lower case letters together, as shown on Sesame Street. I have known several children who write in all caps. I think that they all grow up to be engineers.

Califrau Sat 19-Jul-08 19:35:34

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

GrapefruitMoon Sat 19-Jul-08 19:36:12

DD learned to write her name in capitals before she went to school and we realised they used lower case first. Luckily many of the letters in her name look much the same in capital or lower case but for ages she had a capital E stuck at the end!

WendyWeber Sat 19-Jul-08 19:43:40

I know when my kids were small you could buy a Fisher Price playdesk with a magnetic lid & letters and THE LETTERS WERE ALL CAPITALS.

GM, DD1 did that too (self-taught) but she also managed to get round it once she started at primary.

cornsilk Sat 19-Jul-08 19:46:01

capitals are easier to recognise by shape than lower case letters. Also it is easier to use capitals for learning spelling than lower case.

peachygirl Tue 22-Jul-08 19:40:00

We teach writing using captials in our school (SEN MLD) We follow a scheme called Handwriting Without Tears
nasicaly they say that all the letter bar a couple can be made up of four basic shapes - big line, little line, big curve and little curve.
Children uses wooden shapes to make big letters and make them out of playdough. Chalkboards are also a key part of it all. It is a bit stange at first but we have seen real success with it in school

peachygirl Tue 22-Jul-08 19:41:17

Oh yes when children have mastered the capitals they go onto lower case.

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