What You Need to Know
There are 26 alphabet letters. Each letter has an uppercase and a lowercase version, which means there are 52 shapes to remember. Along with 52 shapes, your child has to remember that each letter has a specific sound and some sounds are similar, making them easy to confuse. You can see why learning letters and their sounds can be challenging for young children.
Learning letter names and sounds is an important part of kindergarten readiness, reading and future school success.
Children begin to learn letter names and sounds when they look at letters and listen to their sounds. You can help your child learn the letters by talking about them when you read together, playing with them and practicing making the letter sounds.
Tools to Download
Download these tools to teach your child the letter names and sounds.
- Alphabet Cards. Print the cards, fold along the dotted line and tape or glue the sides together. Each card will have a picture with letters beneath it on one side. The other side will have just the uppercase and lowercase letters. Pointing out that the uppercase letter is up at the top of the card and the lowercase letter is lower on the card may help your child remember which is which. Click here to see the alphabet cards.
Tips to Help Your Child Learn Letter Names and Sounds
- Create fun experiences with letter names and sounds. Talk, sing and read with your child every day from birth. Sing the Nemours Alphabet Song and other alphabet songs with your young child. As your child grows, begin to point to the letters and pictures on the cards as you sing. Do not be surprised if your child knows a letter and its sound but then can't remember it the next time you sing the song. This is normal when your child is first learning. There's no need to pressure your child to remember the letters every time.
- "Show me the letter" is easier than "tell me the letter." Ask your child to point to or touch a letter instead of trying to tell you the letter name. Once your child can show you the letter easily, ask him or her to tell you the letter's name.
- Use your child's name to practice letter recognition. Children usually learn the letters in their name before learning other letters.
- Play with letters together. Bring the alphabet cards with you when you shop or go to a restaurant. Give your child a card and ask him to find the matching letters on products or on a menu. Go on a scavenger hunt with your older child and encourage her to find items that begin with the sound of the letter on a card. For example, "b" is for ball, bag, button and book. Have your child trace the letters on the card with a finger and then try to write them. You can also play with alphabet blocks, magnetic or puzzles. Make learning fun.
- Remember that reversing letters, such as mixing up the letters "b" and "d," is normal for preschool children. If your child does not know the correct letter name or sound, say the answer and ask your child to repeat it. Your child will gradually remember all the letters and their sounds.
*Piasta, Petscher, and Justice (2012)
**written and performed by Paul Garfinkel