Hey there, friends. What is the big deal with teaching your kids the alphabet? I mean does it really make a difference if my kids know all the letters of the alphabet or not. The alphabet letters can’t really help them to read. Well, I’m about to prove ya wrong. If you are looking for 5 ways to teacher the alphabet letters to your little one than I’ll see ya in this episode, love.
Why Should My Kid Learn the Alphabet
Alright let’s jump right in. Why is your child knowing the alphabet letters important? Plain and simple, letters are the foundations of our every day language. More importantly, learning the letter names is the very first step in a lifelong journey of building upon those very basic skills and will help them learn how to read when the time comes.
Now I’m not saying that every child needs to have the alphabet mastered before entering Kindergarten, but it definitely puts them at an advantage. I know you might be wondering, well no duh I know my kid should know the letters, but how in the world am I supposed to teach my child. It was so very long ago when I was taught my letters and I frankly don’t remember how I learned.
That’s where I am going to help my friends. In true enneagram 2 style, I am here to be your Yoda. LOL. If you don’t know what an enneagram, is I encourage you to check it out, although I will tell you that it has provided me with an excuse for certain behaviors ever since finding out what type I am. LOL.
5 Tips to Make Learning the Alphabet Fun
Back to the matter at hand though, and the first piece of advice I have for you is to just have fun. I know I say this a lot, but it really is true. If you knew you had something to do that you don’t like very much, for me it’s laundry, anyone else? Wouldn’t it be more enjoyable to make it fun, I don’t know how you would make laundry fun but hey any suggestions to help a girl out let me know.
To make the alphabet fun is easy for me. Kids love magnetic letters, puzzles, and little figurines. Magnetic letters can be used on a cookie sheet, refrigerator, or some dry erase or chalkboards. Just put them somewhere where your child can find them and then watch the magic happen. Once they show an interest in them, that is your cue. Go over beside them and engage them in learning about the letters.
For the little guys, think 3 and under, this may look like talking about what the letters look like. A sample conversation might sound like this, See this letter, it has straight lines. It’s the letter A. Can you say A? And so on. By starting the conversation you are opening the door to your child having an experience with the alphabet by starting the conversation early. This will help them connect the concept of these are important to the alphabet letters.
For the older ones, 3 and up, now is the time to begin connecting the letters to sounds and then to easy words. You might start this process by using little figurines that can connect to the alphabet letters. The conversation might go like this, What is this? Yeah, it’s a zebra. Do you know what letter zebra starts with? Z. Z says Zzzz. Don’t overdo the learning process either, if you only get one letter in before they lose interest, it is okay. Breathe. I promise things will work out in the end.
So now that we know how to add fun, what comes next. Simple, it is my secret sauce which I am going to share with you right now. Have letters everywhere. Post-its work wondrous for this or using pieces of paper and tape work well too. The more your child gets used to seeing the letters the more they will start paying attention to them. That is your golden ticket friends. Once you start noticing them pointing them out, that is when you start talking about the letters and their sounds. It can be as simple as “Yes, I see the letter J. J says j. Can you say j?” If they attempt, reward your child with praise. My daughter loves it when I tell her she has done a great job or that I am super proud of her.
Once they start building on the letter names and sounds, you can then start working on some simple words. My recommendation is to begin with words they will see a lot. So, words like: it, me, my, I, you, the, to, and. These words are the beginning focus of Kindergarten and also will be seen in the majority of books you read at home or that will be read in the classroom.
My favorite game to play with my Kindergarteners is Sight Word Search. As I read a story to them, I tell them to look out for the secret sight word. I have the secret sight word on the board and we go over it before hand so that they know what word to listen for. As we are reading the story, if hear it or see it they need to clap their hands and then say what word they found. My kids love this game and it is a sneaky way to practice basic sight words without them realizing that they are learning.
So now we have had fun and we have plastered our house or classroom with letters. We are having conversations about the letters and their sounds, and we may have started practicing some simple words. What’s next you ask? Well, I’m glad you did.
The next step piece is that SONGS WORK. The alphabet song is an oldie but a goodie. For real, the alphabet song has been proven time and time again to be the most effective way of teaching young children their alphabet. If you are looking for some other songs to add to your child’s repertoire you could always check out Jack Hartman and Dr. Jean on YouTube, I will link them in the show notes. They are both awesome and have fun videos and songs for something different than the regular alphabet song.
Next up is to start with the letters in your child’s name. I know I have said this before but if they find a personal connection to learning, your child will be that much more invested in it. Now this suggestion is more focused on little ones ages 3 and up, as the younger ones are not ready for this type of learning. My daughter just turned three and we are only working on the first letter of her name.
An activity that she really enjoys is sorting items that begin with that letter. So we have a bunch of little toys/figurines that we spread out on the floor or table whatever works for you and then we have the letter A on a piece of paper, it could be construction paper. Again, whatever you have available. Then, we talk the letter A and the sound it makes and how it starts her name. Then, we tell her to pick up a toy or figurine. We then ask her what it is and if it starts with A. If she says yes, it goes on the piece of paper. If no, then it gets put aside. We keep going until all of the figurines have been sorted.
Now, obviously there are multiple times where she gets it wrong. The trick is in how you handle the mistakes. You want to avoid calling attention to them completely. If you do, your child may shut down and not want to do any more. What I like to do, is to redirect her in a positive manner. So for instance, say she picked up a truck and placed it on the A. I would then pick up the truck and say “This is a truck. Truck has the t sound. Is that the same sound as a? If she says yes, I would then say, “T says t, A says a. Is that the same?” After this if she is still insistent that T belongs on the A, I would then say in a playful manner, “No, truck doesn’t go on the A.” And then we keep working.
Eventually we will add in more letters until she has learned all the letters in her name, but for right now we are happy with working on just one.
My last piece of wisdom, if you can call it that, is to involve other senses when possible. So when you are learning about the letter C have your child taste a cracker. Then make the connection between cracker and the letter C. Another way you involve the senses is with the letter B. Go outside and blow bubbles or even easier have a bubble machine do all the work. Talk to your child about the bubbles and then chase those bubbles to pop them. One last recommendation for this is to use every opportunity as a learning experience. So for instance just because you’re at the zoo, doesn’t mean that you can’t take a few minutes at the certain animals to engage the sense of sight to talk about M for monkeys, Z for zebras. You get the idea.
The most important takeaways from this is:
- Make it fun
- Put letters everywhere
- Songs do work
- Make it relevant to them – start with their name
- Use a multisensory approach to increase knowledge base
I hope you’ve enjoyed this episode because there is definitely something to be said about practicing the alphabet at home.
Peace, love, and alphabet soup and I will see you back here real soon!