February 27, 2019

Learning Letters is the Gateway to Reading

In the video above, you can see the joy and delight in the face of the little boy who is learning his letters at his local Academy. More precisely, he learned his letter – the letter C is the first letter of his name. Now, when he goes about his day, he’s starting to recognize all the places he sees the letter C. He’s excited about it – and he should be. It’s an important milestone on the road to reading.

“Before children learn to read, they need to be able to recognize the letters of the alphabet and their various forms,” said Richard Peterson, Kiddie Academy’s Vice President of Education. “They need to learn the names and shapes of the letters, and be able to differentiate between similar letters and shapes. At Kiddie Academy, we use books, signs, posters, labels and name cards to help familiarize children with letters. We also encourage them to look for and identify letters they see in the environment as they go through the day.

“We teach children how to form the letters, and discuss the kinds of lines – straight and curved – that are used in letter formation,” added Peterson. “We also have the children distinguish between the uppercase and lowercase forms of the letters.

Sandra Graham, Kiddie Academy’s Director of Training, suggests, “There are a lot of things parents can do at home to help their children learn their letters. They should make it fun and let their children learn through play. It should be a natural occurrence, such as pointing out a letter the child made with their blocks or Legos. Even letting them make letters in their applesauce, pudding or in the bathtub with bath paints is a great way to learn.”

Here are a few suggestions for fun things you can do to help your child learn the alphabet:

Start by practicing the letters of the child’s name. Like in the video above, focus on the child’s letter – the first letter of his or her name. Imagine the pride your child will feel if they can recognize and write their own name!

Make it into a game. Work on relating each letter to the sounds they represent. Then look around the room and pick out an object. “I see a ball. What letter does ball start with?” Once your child provides the answer, ask, “What other objects do you see that start with the letter B?” Continue the game with other letters.

Make sure they’re using writing tools that are sized correctly. Standard-sized pencils are often hard for little hands to hold. Try using fatter pencils or short golf pencils. You can also try putting rubber grips around the pencils to make them easier to hold.

Make it messy! Everything’s more fun when it’s gooey and gloppy! Have your child write letters or words using finger paint, shaving cream or, especially if outdoors, mud.

You can download our Kiddie Academy Alphabet Bingo cards to play a fun game with your child at home (or on the road). There are three cards for younger children and three for older ones. As you call out letters, have your child mark them off on the card. Once they’ve marked off all the letters in a row in any direction on the card, they win!

To use the convenient mobile Bingo boards, save this image to your phone’s photo roll. Use your phone’s picture editing app to allow your child to mark off letters on the image.

Bingo Cards for Ages 2 and 3:

Card 1 | Card 2 | Card 3

Bingo Cards for Ages 4+:

Card 1 | Card 2 | Card 3

Here are some other resources to help your child learn their letters:

50 Incredible Alphabet Activities for Preschoolers” – Handsonaswegrow.com

Seven Tips for Early Literacy Learning: From Knowing your ABCs to Learning to Read” – PBS Parents

6 Tips for Helping Young Kids Learn to Write” – Understood.org

Letter Perfect: Helping Kids Learn to Write” – Parents

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