I feel as though I am always writing about waiting to teach letter recognition. Wait and let little hands get strengthened by other activities. Wait until little minds have had ample time to hear different words and sounds. But a day will come when you SHOULD teach your little ones their letters of course.
Whether it is when they are 4, 5, or 6, at one point or another they will be ready and teaching letter recognition will be the name of the game.When they are ready, in which order should the letters be taught?
Don’t worry – I have an opinion on that too!
When I was in the Kindergarten classroom, I did not teach letter recognition in alphabetical order. I began with “name letters” as these letters hold a very important meaning to children. So for “Sammy” he learned all about s, a m, and y. Once children know their name letters well, I would introduce the other letters in this order:
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Starting with the lower case is helpful, and something I have begun doing – though I haven’t always. Clearly little ones need to know both upper and lowercase letters, but since so much of the print in our everyday lives is lowercase, I find it beneficial to start in that way.
The letter order is similar to the way the letters are taught in the Jolly Phonics Program. By teaching the letters in this manner, children are able to begin forming words very quickly. After learning the first 6 letters kids can make words in the “at”, “an”, “it”, “ip”, “ap” and “in” families.
Introducing the letters and letting little ones begin to make words almost right away creates a huge sense of pride. And since you waited to introduce the letters (you did wait, right?) they are absolutely ready and will be catching on right away, grasping those letter names and sounds easily. If not, perhaps wait a little longer. I know it is hard (trust me I know!) but waiting until your little one is ready will save you both mounds of frustration, and ensure your little one loves learning. There is no rush.
Of course ideas and games using these letters can be found all over How Wee Learn.
I introduce the letters in little groups. At first, relatively quickly I would introduce the first row of letters, maybe over a week. Then we do lots of activities playing with those letters: their sounds, shapes, and names. Once they are mastered, we add in the next row. Building and growing, slow and steady.
Ready to start helping your little ones learn their letters?
Here are some great ideas and fun games that will have those letters mastered in no time!
Educational Quiet Bins – a year’s worth of educational quiet bins to keep little ones occupied.
Forming letters with pipecleaners and popsicle sticks on a homemade sticky board – popsicle sticks can be used for so many purposes!
Mail Play! Mailing friends their “name letters” is a great way to practice letter recognition!
Now that you are armed with some fun games, have an idea about letter orders, and have waited for your little one to be ready – it is time to let them learn those letters! Have fun with this big step with your little ones. And remember, slow is always better. Follow your child’s lead and keep it light and fun. This is the beginning to a life time of learning and a love of reading.
Good luck and I am only an email away with any questions!