Teaching the alphabet is the first step in the journey of literacy skills and to set young children on the road to reading success. There are four separate areas to cover while teaching the alphabet. They are :-
- Knowledge of letter shapes, orientation, and directionality.
- Knowledge of letter names.
- Knowledge of letter sounds both individually and in combination.
- The ability to write letters.
Now when you, the parent, begin to teach the alphabet few doubts may arise in your mind. Do I teach letter names or letter sounds first? Do I teach uppercase letters or lowercase letters first? It is very important to do one’s research,clear your doubts and plan out your steps before embarking on teaching your child. If we teach something wrong, then we have to later teach the child that it was actually totally incorrect practice and try to get him/her to ‘unlearn’ it. Most of the research in the field suggest to teach, first, the sounds and shapes of the entire alphabet., postponing letter names and capital letters. Since we do not read with them, letter names provide no real purpose for the early reader. Therefore, the sounds need to be taught first. Educators also suggest to teach lowercase letters first. Upper case letters have minimal connection to early literacy skills; 95% of written text is in lower case letters.
My daughter showed interest in learning the alphabet at around 2.9 years (our learning journey is totally child led..I introduce topics but if I see she isn’t grasping or not showing interest I leave it absolutely for future). So when I observed she is ready, I started with letter shape, its name and its sound simultaneously. Now at 3.9 years age she recognizes all the letters in both cases, the beginning sounds and ending sounds. So this post is a compilation of methods I used to teach the alphabet to my daughter.
- Alphabet peg puzzles – Wooden peg puzzle tray available with various brands are not only good for an interactive learning but also they help to develop pincer grip.
- Magnetic Letters and magnetic white board- There are numerous ways magnetic letters can be used..same case matching, lowercase uppercase matching, beginning sound matching etc. Also just sticking them on refrigerator sparks an interest in the child to play and thus learn with them.
- Letter treasure hunt hidden in rice or around the house with clues of location from the parent. Or you can just put the plastic letters in water and let the child fish each out as you call out the name. Children love sensory activities and learn faster through them.
- Instruction Cube Game – Rolling instruction cube with letters in the pockets of the cube and finding the letter that comes on top from the scattered letters. This method is particularly great for kinesthetic learners.
- Matching letters with beginning sounds of objects in first words book.
- Alphabet Chart – Putting up an alphabet chart or poster is a great way for children to observe and learn any time they want. Best for visual learners.
- Reading alphabet books – Board books with single letter in only one case in each page, the book Chicka chicka boom boom and just reading good minimal text picture books are great ways to develop interest in the written text.
- Printables – There are lots of free awesome printables available at different websites for teaching alphabet and letter sounds through different techniques like matching, roll and cover, clip cards etc. Just download, print, laminate to make them reusable and you are good to go!! I have mentioned few of the websites at the end of the post.
- Colouring – This can be done with just writing letters on a piece of paper and let the child colour inside the letters. Also coloring books based on alphabet are available.
- Stamping – A stamp pad, upper case letter stamps, and a sheet of paper with lowercase letters written on it…a fun way to learn the alphabet!!
- Sticker Books – Who doesn’t love stickers?? The interactive element of sticker books is great for teaching kids through fun.
- Sandpaper Letters –By tracing over the textured letters with their fingers, children understand the shape, form a visual memory and associate symbols or letter shapes to the sounds which sets the base for reading & refines pre-writing skills. Its a wonderful method which uses visual, muscular, auditory and textural senses, to reinforce alphabet shape and sound.
I am hopeful this post has been a great help to you. Remember to take it slow, follow the child’s pace and keep it fun!
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