Here’s your seven secrets for your child to learn the alphabet:
Teaching the alphabet is not a hard task. There are some simple tricks and tips I have gathered from many years of teaching Montessori pre-schoolers and Grade Ones too. This is the simplified version. Do your own research, but everyone has to start somewhere: take the first step and you won’t regret it.
Remember that a child 0-2 ½ years has a sensitivity to heard language.
The reason why this is a great place to start is that you want them to get used to sounds. You can start with a favourite fluffy toy (e.g. cat) and say “I spy with my little eye something beginning with c”. Carry on until they get it. Then you can build up to using more than one object. You can then carry on but use objects very close. You can then increase the difficulty later by including the room, an using beginning and ending sounds e.g. “I spy with my little eye something beginning with b and ending with r” (bear).
Print out your alphabet. If you have access to a laminator, great. If not, use some form of plastic covering.
Here are some documents of the alphabet. One is in Grade One Font and the other one is in Century Gothic. Note that in the grade one font one that the “u” is left out which is why I did a second document, also because Grade One Font also doesn’t come out so well on all computers. So print the first one and the last one. If you’re having problems with the Grade One Font, print the middle one.
If you’re dedicated, use sandpaper or felt. Remember that a child’s sensitivity to tactile impressions between 2 ½ – 3 ½ years. This is what Montessori uses. Letterland has a lovely set of felt alphabet cards which I use a lot.
I do recommend placing a little red dot at the place where the written letter starts.
Assemble 26 little plastic objects – each must start with the letter of the alphabet. If you can’t find an object – use a picture. This isn’t crucial but it really worked for me and made it more fun.
You need a chart to keep a record of your child’s progress. Get that ready.
The next three steps are put together in three stages. The method used to teach these letters is called the “Three Period Lesson”.
STEP 5: First period: Present
Present your first 3 letters. Have them on the right hand side. Start with 3 dissimilar ones and use a vowel as well. Vowels are great to learn early on.
- Take one letter out.
- The child supports the letter with the left hand.
- Trace the letter with your right index and middle fingers.
- THEN only sound out the letter.
- Let the child feel it and say the sound. Place on right hand side.
- Repeat with the other two letters.
STEP 6: Second period: Identify
- Put all three letters on the mat.
- Ask the child to show you “a” etc. Spend time doing this and tracing.
- This is the most fun part. I use the plastic animals. Put the dinosaur on “d” etc. Put “f” on the floor. Put “h” on your head. Just make it crazy and fun. Little kids love moving. I used to also put them all in a row on the floor and make them jump next to them too.
NB: If they don’t grasp the concept in this period, don’t move onto the next.
STEP 7: Third period: Name
- Put all your letters upside down on the right hand side.
- Turn one letter over and ask what it is.
- Continue with the other two.
- Keep asking.
- A fun thing to do is say “Knock knock, who’s there?” and then turn it over.
When you do it next time, use one known and two unknown.
The score sheet works well because you’ll want to keep checking if they forgot what they learnt before.
If you’re wondering about the four colour groupings, it is done that way because they are written in a similar fashion. For example o, a, qu, d, all start at the top and go round. It also helps to feel some progress e.g. I’ve done the yellow group now!
The IPad has a great app called Kid’s Academy which teaches writing. The only problem I have with it is that it teaches the name of the letter instead of the sound. But other than that it works well and my child used it since he was about two and a half for a while.
I wish you every success in teaching your child the alphabet! I also hope you have lots of fun doing it.