Friday, 1 March 2013

Now I Know My ABC's: Helping Toddlers Learn the Alphabet

Next to social skills, I think learning to read and write are some of the most important skills you can learn, so we have made it an important part of raising Lady & Bug. I don't even know if it was a concious decision, but somewhere along the way it became a focus of our activities.

Whatever we worked, Lady & Bug started recognizing letters on signs and calling them out as we were driving & picking up novels and pointing out all the letters they knew. I would say to myself...aren't they a little young to know that?! I'm pretty sure I didn't learn the alphabet until just before kindergarten...they aren't even 2! They were interested and I just went with it. Now at 2 & 1/2, they are ready to move on to more complex things, but we still make sure we reinforce their learning. I have found that the key is to make learning letters a part of your everyday activities and repetition. This week's theme is the Alphabet.

If helping your children learn their ABC's is important to you, here are some of the thing you can do to help:
  • Read them books. Lady & Bug love books...come to think of it I haven't met a toddler that doesn't like books. They will read anything you give them. Start early, I think hubs read them a book in the nicu! We even have specific Alphabet books - there are lots of great choices out there.
  • Buy books instead of toys. If you do buy toys, find some that are educational and help them learn the alphabet.
  • Love reading yourself. Reading is ME time, it's my escape from the demands of life. Children like to imitate the people they love. If you read, they will read! There are books all over our house, even a designated "library" area where we do a lot of our own reading. It's a fun cozy family place and they love being there when we read. 
  • Give books and reading value. Our books are pieces of art, prize possessions, collections, memorabilia from adventures, experiences, dreams, teachers, and a story of our life's journey. We proudly display them and allow our children to touch them, play with them, and read them (ok, not the valuable ones). We have had no ripped pages or destroyed books - our children have learned to value books from day 1 because they have value to us.

  • Sing the Alphabet song to them. We usually sing it at night before they go to bed. ABCDEFG - HIJKLMNOP - QRS - TUV - WX - Y & Z, now I know my ABC's next time won't you sing with me. Lady & Bug demand that song over and over. I'm glad it has a bit of a lullaby tune and doesn't get them all excited right before bed.
  • Let them watch educational TV and play educational games on the computer or tablet. I know there's a variety of opinions on this one, but they are specifically made to teach young children reading skills, especially the alphabet and numbers. Sesame street is a great example as are many others.
  • When they create, draw, or colour, do it with letters. We make letters on the side walk with chalk, colour letter pages from crayola, make letters out of play dough, & do crafts with foam letters.
  • Make meals with alphabet pasta or bake letter cookies. Lady & Bug love picking out the letters and saying each one as they eat it.
  • Point out letters as you go about your day. We talk about the letters on the road signs, the box of cereal, the grocery store displays, & license plates. There are letters everywhere you look.
  • Take your kids to activities or events in your community that encourage reading. We have programs here for toddlers to help prepare them for school, sunday school, reading programs at the library, and events at local pre-schools & elementary schools. These are also great resources to parents who do not have the desire or skill to teach their own children.
  • Get foam letters for the bath. Lady & Bug spend at least a 1/2 hour in the bath most days and play with those letters the whole time. We spell their names, talk about what an apple starts with or a train or a princess...whatever they're into. They usually make it into the play room too.
  • Make learning letters fun. Make up silly songs and actions. Laugh lots & play.
  • Most importantly - repeat!

Enjoy reading!


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