When do you start teaching your child letters? Ideally, whenever they show an interest. Our oldest daughter would hold up magnetic letters and ask “Wat dis?” But even if you don’t get a clear sign that your child is ready, go ahead and expose them to the alphabet. Most children will start recognizing a few letters around the age 2-3.
“Expose” sounds dirty. What do you mean? Surround them with letters. We have magnetic letters on the fridge, foam letters in the bathtub, letter puzzles on the toy shelf, letter stickers in the art cabinet, and a letter mat on the floor. And of course the best way to see lots of letters is by reading! There are lots of good alphabet books out there. One of our family favorites is Chicka Chicka Boom Boom.
Okay, we have some letter toys. Now what? Just play with the stuff and casually point out letters. I’d start with the first letter of your child’s name. Then “M” for Mom, “D” for Dad, and the first letter of sibling names. Once they are comfortable with those letters, then go back and introduce the other letters in your child’s name. Use all capital letters at first for consistency.
What about alphabet flashcards? Keep it fun and leave the letter flashcards in the box. Unless you want to play a game with them (see below).
I’m bored pointing out letters. What else can I do? So glad you asked….
- Sort letters into groups and see if your child can guess the groupings. Or have them do their own groupings. Some ideas: capital/lower case, letters with curves/straight letters, letters in their name/not in their name, etc.
- Go on a letter hunt at a store. Count all the letter “T”s you can find on signs or products.
- Trace around one of the letters and let your child decorate it.
- Take alphabet flashcards and place them on things around the house that begin with that letter.
- Play Go Fish with alphabet flashcards. Match up a capital and a lower case letter to form a pair. (hint: If you want a shorter game, only play with half of the alphabet at a time)
- Write the letters really big with chalk and let your child walk the lines.
- Arrange objects into letter shapes. Blocks work great for this.
- Write out the alphabet and sing the ABC song as you point to them. Or write them with chalk outside and hop on them.
- Help your child make his body into a letter shape. Take his picture so he can see it!
- Play a find-it game while looking at your letter toys. “I see a letter that looks like a circle. Can you find it?” “Can you find all the letters have lines across the top?”
- “Write” letters on their back with your finger and see if they can guess the letter.
- Stash letter toys or flashcards around the house and have your kiddos go on a letter hunt instead of an Easter egg hunt.
- Put a letter toy in a container. Have your child reach in and feel the letter without seeing it. See if she can guess what she is holding.
- If they are good with scissors, they can cut (big) letters out of magazines.
Remember recognizing and WRITING letters are two different skills. Identifying letters comes months or years before being able to write the letters.
Common Core Standard: (kindergarten- Recognize and name all upper- and lowercase letters of the alphabet)