Teaching the alphabet -Letter names
Teaching the alphabet is similar to teaching children numbers. When helping a child to learn numbers, the first thing she learns is to count. This is much the same for the alphabet. If she learns to say the names of the letters first, it makes it much easier to connect the name with a shape.
Let’s look at what a child is really learning by saying the names of the alphabet letters:
- There are many (26) letter names.
- Letter names are special. They are different from other words or names.
- Letter names are not the same as counting numbers.
- Letter names are important. They are talked about and used in many different situations.
The alphabet is the foundation for reading and writing. We must make that foundation a strong one. Learning to say and recognize the letter names quickly and easily is the important first step.
Teaching the alphabet letter names
With very young children, learning must be fun and interactive. Following are a few ideas for teaching the letter names.
- Sing the ABC song. Be sure to slow down the tune when you get to L, M, N, O, P!
- Play a game where you say the names of the letters, but every few letters throw in another word. Encourage your child to stop you and help you correct your “mistake”.
- Make up a tune to say the names of the letters in your child’s name. For example, a five letter name fits well to the tune of “BINGO” and a seven letter name can fit to “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star”.
- Read an alphabet chant book. A good example of this is “Chicka Chicka Boom Boom” by Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault. Encourage your child to chant the names of the alphabet with you.
When to move on to the next step
In learning the letter names, the goal is fluency and flexibility. Fluency refers to the ease and speed of recognizing and saying the names of the letters. Flexibility is being able to identify letter names in a variety of situations. For example, knowing that two different ABC books are both referring to the same letters. When your child exhibits the following behaviors, it is time to introduce the letter shapes:
- Sing the ABC song independently
- Recognize words that are not letter names in a string of letters
- Name the letters in his/her name
- Say the names of some letters when asked
Click on the links below to learn more about the next steps in teaching the alphabet.
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