Monday, January 19, 2015

How To Teach the ABC's to Your Child {Without Curriculum!}

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Do you want to raise an early reader? Are you feeling overwhelmed by the countless {and often expensive} curriculum options available? Have you desired to teach letters to your preschooler or toddler, but been unsure of where to start? Are you sick of flash cards?

Me too, to all of the above!

By employing this handful of methods regularly into our daily routine, I have seen significant progress in my three year old daughter's ability to identify the names and phonetic sounds of most of her letters. She hasn't fully arrived, but she is improving daily and having a blast with the alphabet.

It doesn't take rocket science. You don't have to be a professional educator to teach your child their pre-reading skills.

Read an alphabet book a day. Each day we select one ABC book to read. I point at the letters and repeat them, along with the sound they make, several times. Now that we've been doing this for awhile, I often point at the letter and have my daughter identify it. If I tell her she is teaching the letters to her little brother or the dolly she is holding, she is usually all the more eager!

Some of our favorite children's alphabet books include: Peter Rabbit's ABC,123, D is for Duck Calls, Animalia, The Artful Alphabet, Eating the Alphabet, and Alphabet Trucks. Of course you could always go with an alphabet book from one of your favorite, classic children's authors- like Dr. Seuss or Eric Carle. And Melissa and Doug have an alphabet puzzle book that I am drooling over :). I try to check out at least one new alphabet book each week from our library, just to keep things fresh and interesting.

Point out letters as you see them each day. Anytime you walk by a sign, wear a shirt with text, glance at the cover of a coloring book, or flip through a magazine, you have a prime letter learning opportunity. Be intentional about seizing it! Name the letters for your child, and tell her what sounds they make. Just like a lion says "roar," B says "Buh."

Read a lot of books together. Obviously one of the fundamental building blocks for reading is to be read too- as frequently and long as possible. On the days that I struggle to get dressed and do housework, I try to at least be reading to my kids on the couch instead of surfing my phone, so that all is not in vain. Point out and sound out letters as you go.


Play with alphabet toys. Alphabet blocks, magnets, foam bath letters, and other toys abound. They don't have to be expensive either! I've purchased magnets from the dollar store, as well as Target's dollar section. Make sure they are included in your child's daily toy rotation. When it's time to clean up, ask them specifically to look for an A or F or H to put away. Make it a game!

Sound out words throughout the day. As I push my kids in the stroller I spell and sound out the sights we pass. "What does puh-puh-pond start with, S?" She jubilantly replies, "P!" Success! We work our way through short words, sounding out one letter at a time. If you are just starting this with your child, simply work on the first letter of the word. In time they will learn that rock starts with r, sidewalk with s, and grass with g.

That is all that I've done with S- no flash cards, no curriculum, no daily angst or nagging to get through a lesson plan. She can identify {almost} her entire alphabet, and knows the sounds that most letters make. Occasionally she will spontaneously sound out a word and tell me what it starts with, which makes me one proud mama.

Take a deep breath and relax, mom. The ABC's can be as simple as that!

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