Awesome ABC’s – Teaching the Alphabet to Kids
By Rachel Wells
Summer just began, but school will be back before we know it! If you have a young child entering preschool or kindergarten, now is the perfect time to teach them the alphabet and jumpstart their fall school success.
Reading is an essential milestone for kids, but before a child can learn to read, we need to teach them the ABC’s – and this includes recognizing each letters shape, name, and sounds. Learning the ABC’s turns into learning words, and learning words progresses into learning sentences. Once a child knows how to read sentences, they can turn those sentences into books, stories, poems, and more!
It’s important to remember your audience here. Young children have shorter attention spans, and not every type of activity is going to work for every child. Each unique personality also has a unique learning style. Finding the right activities for your child is imperative to building their confidence.
Before entering kindergarten, your preschooler should be able to:
- Say/sing the ABC’s
- Identify upper and lowercase letters
- Identify the sounds each letter makes
- Trace letters
- Write their name and at least a few other alphabet letters
Check out these 5 key tips to helping your child learn their ABC’s this summer:
Read books that focus on the letters of the alphabet, or grab one of your child’s favorite books and look for specific letters of the alphabet together.
Head to library a pick of some of these excellent ABC books:
Practice throughout the day
Environmental print is the print found in everyday life. There are things to read everywhere you look – street signs, recipes, directions, your shopping list, a candy wrapper, etc. Show your child real life examples of letters and words to highlight their importance. The more your child sees letters in real life settings the more they will be interested in learning about them.
How you can practice throughout the day:
- Identify things that start with certain letters around your house
- Choose a road sign to look for when going for a drive. Have them read the sign each time they see one, and count how many times they can find it.
- Next time you are at the grocery store, ask your child to try find the letters in their name on boxes.
- Take a walk around your neighborhood and talk about the beginning letter sounds you hear for the objects you see. “Oh I see a rabbit! Rabbit starts with the sound rrrrr, the letter R says rrrrrr. Can you say is with me? Rrrrr-rabbit!”
Begin with your child’s name
Kids love to talk about themselves – so teaching the letters in their name is a great place to start! Remember to teach the letters the way your child sees their name – starting with a capital letter with the rest lowercase. When a child is taught their name in all capitals they end up having to re-learn their name with the proper use of capitals and lowercase in kindergarten.
Try these fun ways to practice name writing:
- Rainbow write – have your child trace or write their letters with multiple colors of markers (smelly markers are an extra fun treat!)
- Write your child’s name with chalk and have them trace over their letters with a paintbrush dipped in water to erase the letters away!
- Write your child’s name on cardstock and cut the letters apart – creating a personalized puzzle for them to put back together.
- Have your child build their name with Duplo’s or building blocks
Teach individual letters
Whether you teach a letter each week or daily, makeing time to focus on one letter at a time. Spend time looking at how the letter is formed, practice writing or tracing it, and practice the sound(s) it makes.
Each time you focus on a new letter:
- Give your child a stack of old magazines and have them cut out images of the letter you are learning about.
- Sing a song using that letter (your child doesn’t care if you aren’t a good singer!)
- Make a fun snack that starts with the letter of the day
- Grab a brown paper lunch bag and write the letter on it. Have your child walk around the house filling the bag with items that start with that letter.
Keep it fun and hands-on
Many young learners learn best by being actively involved in the process. Hands-on activities are one of the best ways to engage your child.
- Get your child moving and ask them to move their body in the shape of each letter. Can you make the letter T with your body? How about the letter S?
- Put alphabet puzzle pieces in a sensory bin filled with rice or beans. Have them use tweezers or scoops to dig out the pieces and match them to the puzzle board.
- Practice writing letters in salt or shaving cream
- Sing the ABC’s when washing your hands
- Play freeze dance. Lay letter cards on the floor and let your child dance. Each time the music stops your child must pick up one of the letters from the floor and tell you its name. Remove the card after they tell you. Continue until all the cards are picked up.