Whether your child is preparing for kindergarten or starting to learn English as a second language, the English alphabet is an essential part of learning how to read and write. Learning to read and write is a very special and magical time for children. The learning process should be fun for both parent and child.
As parents, it’s natural and acceptable to want the very best for our children. Sometimes wanting the best for our children ends up having the complete opposite effect for one reason or another. I’ve see it happen so many times with parents, at one point along the road of parenting, we get so overly excited and proud, we want to teach our children everything all at once. We also may be inclined to feel that our child needs to be doing or learning similar things that other children doing or learning. It may be a child that’s younger; sometimes its children that are of the same age, and at times is may be children that are slightly older. I’m not trying to point any fingers and I’m not afraid to admit that when I first became a new mother, I was constantly comparing. What’s important is realizing that no two children are alike, so there’s no reason to be comparing your child to another. We need to let our children grow, develop and learn in their own special ways, and in return, that will be the key to their success.
In order to decide whether or not your child is truly ready to begin learning the alphabet, try this quick test. Have your child hold a pencil, if they are able to properly hold a pencil steadily in their hand, then this is a good starting point. Be patient with your child, and remember that writing is a complete new process and can be a difficult task for young children.
Start out with an easy activity to start introducing the letters of the alphabet. Let your child do the listening unless they choose their self to chime along. You can incorporate the letters of the alphabet in fun creative ways such as an alphabet chart, flash cards, chalkboards/dry erase boards or a cute children’s alphabet book. Physically point out each letter as you say the name of the letter and exaggerate the kind of sound it makes. Ask your child to repeat after you. I would suggest repeating this activity over a span of week as a good warm up.
You can take the next step in one of two ways, depending on how well your child seems to be retaining the information they learned from the previous week.
Divide the alphabet in half, spending the next week or two (or longer if needed) to work with the first thirteen letters of the alphabet.
Dedicate one letter per day
Divide letters into sections of two, three, four, or five (use your discretion to decide)
Regardless of the method you choose to divide the alphabet, reviewed each letter(s) for that particular day and see if your child can name each letter on their own. Once your child has successfully completed each section of the alphabet, start combing two sections a day. Once your child is able to identify all the letters of the alphabet, it’s time to move on to the next step.
This next step is the fun and exciting part because your child gets to physically practice writing each letter of the alphabet. To help with guiding your child, make sure that you have lined paper for this activity.. You can use wide rule notebook paper or choose writing practice paper. I would highly recommend going with writing practice paper rather than the wide rule notebook paper because the space between each line is larger, visually less confusing, and easier on little hands. I have created a free practice paper printable to save you a trip to the store: Practice Paper. Go ahead and write each letter for your child and allow them to copy your letter several times. Help your child figure out how each stroke of the letter comes together. Some children have difficulty remembering when a round part of a letter has a line or a loop attached, so gently remind your child. For example, some children can't remember that a "p" is an "o" with a line attached. Explain this to your child as they are writing. You can also practice using the connect-the-dot method as well.
Once your child is comfortable with writing all the letters of the alphabet, start creating crafts together that incorporate letters and letter writing. Make a scrapbook, and ask your child to help you label pictures using letters, create a card for a friend, write a short note or book, or simply cut out a specific letter from a piece of paper and decorate it. Practice writing words. Your child can copy a sentence from a book or magazine or write words that are meaningful to him. For example, your child can write his name or his favorite color. Say each letter as your child writes it to help him remember names of each letter.
No matter which approach you take to teach your child to read and write the alphabet, always remember to have patience, cheer your them on and show how proud you are and do what you can to keep the learning process fun and with the least amount of frustration. You are teaching your child skills that they will use for the rest of their life. Skills that will lead to bigger and better opportunities. Once you have your child reading and writing the alphabet, pat yourself on the back, and wait for the best yet to come! Have fun and happy learning!
What fun methods have you tried or plan to try with your child to teach them the alphabet? The more creative the better! Please feel free to comment & share some photos of your creativity :)