Knowing how to read and write is essential, not just for school but also for your imagination and enjoyment. Your children will eventually start picking out their own books and will be getting lost in magical, mystical, and fictional worlds.
The first step in their literary journey is learning the alphabet. While we know about the ABC song, remember that children initially need to learn in a simple way. A good place to start is by teaching phonics.
This is the sound that the letter actually makes when being used in a word. In knowing how they sound, it will be easier to string letters together to spell out simple words.
When to teach your toddler the alphabet is dependent on your child. If they’re two or three years old, they might not be interested in learning letters and that’s ok. Just give it some time and try again.
When they are ready, there are some fun ways to introduce the alphabet. By making the learning process exciting for your toddler, they will be more eager to learn. We know that toddlers can’t sit still for too long, which is exactly why introducing play-based learning, like our Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF), from a young age is crucial to their cognitive development.
Reading is a great way to introduce your child to the alphabet and you can start as soon as you want to.
While they may not understand the words, they will soon realise that their favourite stories are composed of letters. In testing their independence, they may want to read for themselves.
It’s All in Their Name
Writing your child’s name and phonetically sounding out the letters is a great way for them to see that letters mean something and create familiar words, like their name.
They may soon start to spell it themselves. Any achievement needs to be praised and you should encourage them to learn more.
Alphabet Puzzle/Tile Mats
These light foam mats are not only good for sitting on, they’re great for games too. If the mat is in your child’s room or play area, take the time to sit with them and sound out each letter. Once they’re comfortable with the order, have them build an alphabet tower. Starting with the A, let them stack each letter on top of each other. However, they need to say the letter as well as a word that starts with it.
You could use the alphabet mat for this or write each letter on a piece of paper. Then, arrange the letters in order but leave a few out.
Hide the missing letters inside of, on top of, underneath, or close to an object that the letter starts with. Have your child search for it and put it in the correct space.
This will require a little preparation. First, hide a treasure in the garden or around the house. It can be anything that will make your child smile, like their favourite toy or a special treat.
Then, give them a card with instructions on where to find the letter A. Each card will tell them where to find the next letter, which will be close to an object that starts with that letter. An example would be that they can find the letter B close a long yellow fruit. Once they get to Z, they would have found the treasure.
These are just some of the ways that you can get your toddler interested in, and learning about, the alphabet. Just take it slow and be sure to praise and encourage them throughout the process.