There is so much going on in the field of neuroimaging research and the brain. In the August 11, 2008 issue of “Advance for Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists,” they cite research by Karin Harmin James, PhD, at Indiana University. “We are interested in how children’s neural activity changes as they learn to recognize letters and read,” according to Dr. James. They have shown that when children look at letters, their brain activity looks similar to that of literate adults, but only after they had practice printing letters.

One group of preschoolers practiced recognizing letters through visual practice while the other group practiced printing the letters. According to this article, “Only the group that practiced printing letters showed changes in brain a activity while viewing letters as a result of their experience.” Dr. James’ research shows the benefits of motor training as well as visual learning.

So have fun practicing printing letters with your preschooler. Identify letters in her environment that she sees regularly—maybe the brand on the refrigerator, or a letter on the title of a magazine, or in her name. Have paper, pencils, crayons and markers (with supervision) available so she can initiate that activity on her own.