Learning the letters of the alphabet is a fundamental building block in learning to read and write.
One of the first things to think about when introducing the alphabet is your child’s environment- does it support your child’s learning of abcs? Are books and any other resources that feature the alphabet, accessible to them? Can your child see the alphabet written anywhere?
Sounds obvious, but children will become familiar with the alphabet much quicker if they are exposed to it regularly.
Having the alphabet on a placemat, that is regularly used during meal times, is a fantastic example of ensuring the alphabet is visible and accessible to children. Meal times are a perfect opportunity for children to talk to an adult, ask questions and ultimately learn.
Once you’ve ensured the environment helps support your child’s learning, how else can you teach the alphabet?
Here are my top tips:
- Read- The alphabet is all about the basics of learning to read and write. Encourage a love of books by reading regularly. Show that you love books by reading in front of them. Point out and name the letters in the words you read, this will help your child understand that you are using the letters in the alphabet to read the words. Reading books is also a great opportunity to show your child capital letters and lower case letters.
- Song and Rhyme– One of the most traditional and valuable ways of teaching the alphabet is through song. Singing or reciting the alphabet song is great for helping children to practise saying the letters, learning the letters and memorising the order of the letters. It’s enjoyable and helps children to develop their social and communication skills.
- Have Fun Forming the Letters of the Alphabet– Workbooks, particularly wipe clean ones, are fantastic to help children learn to write the letters. You can also keep children engaged and stimulate their senses by creating the letters from different materials. This could be lollipop sticks, Pom Poms, play dough, Kinetic Sand etc (see here for examples)
- Develop Awareness of Letters all Around Them– The letters of the alphabet are everywhere: signs, car registration plates, magazines, post, food labels etc. Show your child this and play at spotting letters everywhere you go together. You could even get them to find certain letters in old magazines and cut them out together. Not only does seeing letters around them highlight the importance of the alphabet, but it builds their understanding and memory of the letters in a fun way.
- Match Upper and Lower Case Letters. In my experience, the fact that we have upper and lower case letters can be confusing for children. Learning which upper case letters go with which lower case letter can often be a stumbling block for some children. Any activity that helps children match the letters together is helpful (see my post here for ideas) Resources that show both upper case and lower case letters, like Edge Ahead’s Placemat, help children to make links between the upper and lower case letters.
- Have a Focus– For some children focusing on a letter a week or the letters of their name first- can help break the task down and make it more manageable. It also helps you as parents to highlight which letters they are finding tricky.
Edge Ahead‘s products are designed by teachers with learning in mind. Not only have they created the Alphabet Placemat but they have also designed puzzles and floor mats to support children learning to count and their times tables. Visit their website here.