I am going to give 3 reasons why I teach uppercase letters first. The first 2 are just practical, but #3 is the biggest reason.
I love my job. I love the kids I work with. In my line of work I tend to work with students that struggle to function in the classroom. I tend to work with students in preschool and kindergarten that struggle to learn their letters. These are the kids that I champion for.
A large percentage of the student population will learn letters and sounds, both upper and lowercase without too much of an issue. They will catch on quickly, responding to whatever method their teacher uses.
Sometimes teachers give a lot of information at once. "Uppercase A. Lowercase a. Aa is for apple. The sound is -ah." That is 4 different concepts thrown at a child at once. It is really confusing for my struggling learners.
Sometimes teachers just expect the child to know the alphabet and specific instruction is glazed over or not given at all. I have been in the situation in which parents (or even teachers) are surprised when I tell them that their child doesn't know their letters. "But they sing the Alphabet Song all of the time!" is a common response. While the Alphabet Song is a good start, it does not mean that they can identify their letters.
When little learners struggle, they tend to get frustrated. When they get frustrated, school is a chore.
Almost all of the students I work with have reached this point in one way or another. Some just don't want to come to school, some shut down, and some act out behaviorally.
If and when a school catches that a student is struggling, they tend to give these students more attention. But they tend to give more of the same instruction that wasn't working in the first place. I see this all. of. the. time.
1. Visually less confusing.
Teaching uppercase letters are visually less confusing than lowercase letters. This is allows for a greater chance of success.
2. Easier to write.
Uppercase letters involve more straight lines and simple curves. These are simply, developmentally easier to write.
3. BIGGEST REASON:
They will feel successful! Not only feel, but BE successful. Success is the greatest motivator.
Think about this. Let's say that you want to lose some weight. You go on a diet and set up a workout routine. You work hard. You do exactly what you are supposed to do. 2 weeks into your hard work, you step on the scale for the first time since you started. You gained 5 pounds! Wait. What!?! How would you feel in that moment?
Crushed. Defeated. Disappointed. Maybe even embarrassed. Now how willing are you to keep on that same diet plan?
You tell a few close friends and they tell you that you look great (which is true) and that you should keep going (which is true). They encourage you. They rationalize this with muscle gain or water weight. This softens the blow, but you know that in a small way that you have somehow failed. Or at least you FEEL like you failed. It is tough to keep going on putting in the same amount of effort.
Now same scenario. Let's say that you step on the scale and you lost 5 pounds. Hallelujah!! OMG!! Awesome sauce!! How motivated are you now! You don't even need anyones encouragement, because you KNOW that you are successful. You have proven it to yourself. The success is self evident.
Mister Smith's Letter Recognition Program and Alphabet Book starts with the uppercase letters first.
I start with the "easy" letters first.
I have done my best to make the process as simple and fun as possible.
When you see that spark in your student's eye. When you see that positive feedback loop begin. That is when they begin to believe in themselves! That is when they begin to trust in themselves.
They EXPERIENCE success. They FEEL successful.
That is where the magic is.
You then progress from there.
It is such a beautiful process.
From there I progress to the Lowercase Letter Recognition Program.
Then we move onto sounds and how they correlate with lowercase letters (because most of what we read is lowercase) and I do this with Mister Smith's Sound Cards.
From there I use CVC Beginning Sound Puzzles to demonstrate how putting all of these sounds together makes words.