I remembered my own mom teaching me how to read the alphabet when I was 5 years old. It was the time when preschool and private school was still a new concept then in our place. Most kids my age enter the first grade immediately at age 7. I got to enter preschool (kinder 2) when I was six. A year before that, my mom began teaching me not only to read the alphabet but taught phonics. I would repeat the sound of “a”, “b” and so on with her almost everyday. And my mom’s efforts paid off! I got to learn the alphabet and in no time began reading short stories when I was six.
Fast forward, I am now a mom to three little kids. Danielle is 3 years and 7 months, Josh is 1 year and 8 months and Jojo is 3 months. I began teaching Danielle when she almost turned two years old. By the time of her second birthday, she could almost read all of the alphabets except for the letters q and x. I think these were then difficult for her to articulate. But what surprised me was my 1 year old son. Yesterday, Danielle and I were thumbing through her tattered alphabet book when Josh came up. Just to show Josh the alphabets, I began pointing and naming the ABCs and just for fun, I quizzed him the name of the letters. He named the first three letters correctly. I thought, he must just have a good memory until I flipped the pages and pointed at m, n, o, p and asked him the names. This time, he named the letters again correctly! I did not teach him any of the alphabets and yesterday was supposed to be a starting day for him. So what happened? I think children learn at different pace and through different ways. From my experience, these were the things I did for Danielle (and Josh) to help them learn the alphabet. I hope you can try it out too!
Invest on good, sturdy and large Alphabet book
When Danielle was one year old, I bought two large, sturdy alphabet and number books from a bookstore. They were quite expensive but I didn’t mind the price. I thought of them as investments. And my foresight proved right- just after six months, the books became tattered but were difficult to tear! The pages were made of carton.
Allow kids to hold, explore and yes- even tear the book!
I got this from my mom. When we were younger, my parents bought us a set of Walt Disney books. They would allow us to ‘read’ it and would not scold us if we accidentally tear a page. With Danielle’s case, I would allow here to pull out the stuffed animals that came with her alphabet book. She doesn’t do it anymore when she turned 3. Now that Josh is also exploring the book, all the animals are either torn or missing. My belief is, if we don’t let them hold/play with the book because they might tear it apart, we are sending them an unintentional message that books are off-limits.
Practice Consistency and Repetition
With Danielle’s case, we practice the alphabet regularly and we repeat the same set (four or five letters at a time) until she masters it. This was done almost everyday before she turned 2. I started teaching her at about Josh’s age too. It’s different with Josh’s case. He could identify almost all of the 26 letters with the exception of letter I- he has difficulty in articulating it. Just this morning, I reviewed the letters with him. If a child already knows something, it would be better to just review and move on to another learning activity.
Allow children to view alphabet videos at a certain amount of time
I know there might be those who are not amenable of letting youtube do the teaching of the alphabet. In Danielle’s case, I let her view a popular baby educational series almost everyday for 30 minutes. But I stopped it when a friend told me of a study that says it is not as effective as it claims to be. In Josh’s case, we allow him to view youtube’s alphabet song video to help him become familiar with the sounds and music. But I never thought he would learn it from there and not from me. I started formally teaching Danielle when she was Josh’s age.
So there… I hope you find my experience informative!
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