How do I teach my child the names of letters?

Suppose your three-year-old is aware of letters and is ready to begin naming letters properly.  Where do you begin?  Since all children are self-centered, start with their names and the names of important people and pets.ABC Song

  • Begin with the child’s name.  Teach the child to name the letters in his or her name, and in family members’ names.
  • Point out letters from the child’s name on food items, and on the computer, and ask the child to name the letters.
  • Introduce letter names in small batches, three or four at a time.  26 capitals and 26 lower case letters—that’s a lot to learn all at once.
  • Explain that all letters can be written two ways, as capitals and as lower case letters.  Point out examples of both when you are naming letters.
  • Let the child be the detective.  Ask if the child can find the “t” on a box of oatmeal, or the “T” in the title, Ten Apples up on Top.
  • Cut out multiple copies of letters and glue them to a paper.  Let the child glue similar letters near the one on the paper.
  • With little children, the process is more important than the product.  Perfection can come later.
  • Even though today’s refrigerator masterpiece will be tossed out with next week’s recyclables, highlight today’s work so that the child sees you value his work as important.
  • Sing the ABC song with your child.  Don’t worry if she says “el-en-em-oh” for “L, M, N, O.”  You say it correctly and with time, she will too.
  • ABC flash cards can be great to help mastering letter names.  For starts, use just the letters the child knows, and gradually introduce more.  26 letters all at once can be intimidating.
  • Expect confusing with b and d, p and q, I and l, and M and W.  If the child is trying to say the letters, gently correct.  “Oops, that’s a backwards b.  What do we call a backwards b?”  It’s common for children to confuse some letters for several years, but eventually they will outgrow it.

Focus on letter names that are important to the child.  Don’t worry about the sounds that letters make.  That comes later.

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