Alphabet knowledge goes beyond letter-name knowledge. Even in both upper and lowercase. This also includes the level of automaticity of how students recognize letters and their, letter-sound knowledge.
Learners must know phoneme and grapheme mapping. Meaning knowing which sound goes to which letter and also the more general alphabetic principle that letters represent sounds. Sounds make up words, words make up sentences and speech.Thus alphabetic knowledge requires both o letter knowledge and phonemic_awareness.
Like many emergent literacy skills alphabetic principles develop in systematic ways. Children learn upper-case letters firs. They then learn matching lower case letters much more then gradually. The first and last Letters child’s first name (Justice, Pence, & Bowles 2006; McGee & Richgels, 1989; Treiman & Broderick, 1998, get learned first. Once students can recognize letters instantly they can move on to harder decoding tasks (Hall & Moats, 1999).
Learners struggle with letter-sound correspondences when the letters have multiple sound mappings such as C or G, or represent different sounds like with W and H. Traditional instruction focuses on Teaching letter-sound associations through rote memorization through “letter people” or ““letter of the day programs”.
These approaches or focusing on spelling are not as effective as linking phonemes and graphemes with relevant sounds through teacher-scaffolded writing activities (Ball & Blachman, 1991; Ehri & Wilce, 1985). In other words write and sound out each letter in CVC not by name but by sound.
Students need multiple exposures to letters and sounds through multiple repetitions. In preschool label everything and have students write their names often. At your centers include activities that get students mapping letters to sounds such a s magnetic letters, flashcards, tablet apps. Encourage them to write the first names of students in the calss even with inventive spelling. In other words if you have a classroom library have a “librarian” who must write names to check out books.
In Kindergarten they should match letters in words and be able to echo ABC books that list a few words per sound the letter can make.
Teach penmanship and writing. Encouraging students to trace letters while they repeat the sounds helps to solidify understanding. In your assessment of both identification and writing of letters provide additional support to those who confuse uppercase and lowercase letters.