When I hear a young child sing the alphabet song, I always smile as they sing, “elemenopee.” Most of us sang that same tune when we learned the alphabet. Learning the alphabet is a milestone for young children and a stepping stone to reading.
Letter recognition is one of the five critical skills for reading readiness. The other four are print awareness, phonological awareness, listening comprehension and motivation to read.
Letter recognition is the ability to recognize and name all of the upper-case and lower-case letters, and be able to differentiate letters from numbers and symbols. Children also need to know the sounds made by letters to consider this skill mastered. The key point for young children is exposure.
Have Fun Learning Letters
The best way for your child to be exposed to letters is to encourage your child to be curious, to play and to explore. Here are some ideas to work on letter recognition:
- Point out letters on signs or license plates.
- Talk about the letters in your child’s name. Are the letters straight or curved?
- Place books throughout your house and make reading part of your daily routine.
- Complete an alphabet puzzle.
- Sing the alphabet song but begin with a different letter each time.
- Build with blocks that have letters, numbers and other symbols.
- Play with magnet letters (on the refrigerator or a cookie sheet).
- Trace the letters from a puzzle.
- Talk about words that rhyme (nonsense words are encouraged).
- Write letters in a sandbox, snow or a pile of dirt.
- Play with foam letters in the bathtub.
- Use chalk, crayons and paint to make letters, numbers and symbols.
- Play “I Spy” with the letters of the alphabet.
- Look for specific letters at the grocery store, on a menu, in the newspaper or a magazine.
Your child’s love of reading and books is the best foundation for reading readiness. You can learn more about your child’s favorite topic in nonfiction books. Select books with exciting stories and beautiful illustrations that your child will wan to read again and again.