How to Teach the Letters of the Alphabet to Young Children

Memorizing the alphabet is not a measure of intelligence, but properly learning the sounds of the letters does set children up for future reading success! Learning the letter sounds should come before learning the letter names because knowing the sounds allows them to read and write. Here are a few quick ways to help your child learn their letters while keeping it fun, developmentally appropriate and engaging.

  1. Instead of teaching the letter name and words, “A is for apple” teach your child letter sounds, “aaa, is for apple” Letter sounds (sounds letters make) are learned first so we can read sooner. Letter names can be learned later.
  2. Instead of following ABC order, start with letters in their name. This brings more meaning and personal involvement to the learning.
  3. Try not to teach visually similar letters together. For example, teaching letters s and t together is a better choice and b and d or q and p.
  4. Focus on teaching one new letter a week. Repeated exposure and review through play will cement their learning.
  5. Instead of old fashion drill, use multi-sensory learning to explore new letters. Have children trace then in sand, or on a tray with salt or sugar. Let children paint them with their little fingers. Have them use their whole arms to trace them in the sky for a large motor activity and then have them trace on the carpet with their fingers for a small motor activity. One of my favorite activities is to pour a cup of pudding (store bought is fast) on water color paper and have littles use their hands and fingers to draw letters. This involves seeing, touching, smelling, tasting and hearing if you tell them the letter sounds as they play.
  6. Teach lowercase letters first because they are used more often in reading and writing than capital letters.
  7. Lastly, have fun! Every child’s pace on learning letters will be different. Follow their lead and be consistent.

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