What’s the best way for kids to learn the alphabet?
PLAY. OF COURSE! As much as we might think adults need to have a big hand and push into kids learning the alphabet, that’s just not always the case: Kids learn the alphabet when they play with it.
No stressing needed in the early years.
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How do you help your child learn the alphabet?
By letting them play with it. Kids need exposure to it – the same way they have exposure to animals, dolls, cars, trucks, numbers, and blocks.
The truth is: memorizing letter names is just that, memorizing. While it may seem super fancy, memorizing letter names is no different than memorizing dinosaur names, color words, princesses, and Paw Patrol characters.
It’s memorizing the name of a symbol.
The difference is, parents have been told that memorizing the ABCs is the key to learning success. That’s just not true.
Learning in the early years shouldn’t be relegated to just memorizing. The early years is for learning to problem solve, communicate, critical think, to ask question, to take risks, to develop life long skills… and they develop all these through PLAY.
It all comes back to PLAY.
Learning the alphabet is no different than learning animals names
Our children see animals everywhere, and we encourage them to learn names and sounds as they do.
“That’s a cow. It says mooooo.”
Letters are no different. We are asking a child to memorize the name and the sound it makes.
“That’s an M. It says mmmmm.”
We don’t build up animal names. We don’t worry about animal names. We don’t buy flashcards to help memorize names and sounds faster.
But we do with letters.
We don’t need to.
Expose your child to letters as they play – as they’re interested
Just like we don’t push animals, or construction trucks, or dinosaur names on little kids if they aren’t interested… follow the same rule with letters.
But if you DO HAVE A CHILD INTERESTED IN LETTERS, play with them. Answer questions. Be casual. Be cool. It’ll happen.
Remember, kids are expected to learn the alphabet IN KINDERGARTEN (that’s what the Common Core State Standards say).
Amazing activity to help your child PLAY with the alphabet
Here’s some of our greatest hits from through the years that helped my kids learn their letters bit by bit.
Nothing fancy. Just play and fun, light and breezy.
A combination literacy + sensory + life skills activity that can’t be beat. A good set of alphabet magnets (like the ones here) are a must!
Identifying capital letters and their small letter counterparts is a big deal… but it’s also similar to kids recognizing several breeds of bears or that Great Danes and Poodles are both dogs.
It’s another skill that grows over time.
A little art + letter recognition here, and this activity uses alphabet magnets too. They’re an important toy/supply to keep on hand!
The tag line is right here: all these supplies came from the Dollar Store! The Dollar Store is a GREAT place to find activity supplies.
I spy alphabet magnets again!!! This is a FUN activity for littles – because it’s a color sorting activity that uses alphabet pieces as the materials. My son (in this photo) didn’t know his ABCs yet, but he had a ball playing with them.
Always a favorite! This is a MATCHING activity – and my daughter had a ball trying to put her letters back in alphabetical order.
Grab your toilet tube collection and your dot stickers. This is a great (and portable!) activity for kids.
A classic here. This has been on repeat since 2016 and we play it ALL THE TIME. It’s part letters, part gross motor, and one of the greatest “sittervising” activities of my life.
An activity that focuses on “tricky letters.” This activity is for all those letters that look different in capital vs lower case form. Ss and Cc are easy letters. Ee and Gg? Tricky letters.
Hello to one of my favorite activities and favorite TRICKS. Yes, that sharpie really does come off. And everyone say hi to my alphabet magnets yet again…
I can still remember the first time we did this! Feels like yesterday so you know that makes me feel OLD. It’s a classic for a reason… and the reason I got so many dinners made with 3 under 4.
Look at this cutie unwrapping his puzzle pieces. What kid doesn’t love opening a present? 26 alphabet puzzle pieces is one mighty fine way to play with the ABCs.
Featuring one of my favorite alphabet toys: the foam bath letters. Not just for the bath, and totally awesome to play with. We still have a set of these!
Above all else, remember: learning the letters is about exposure NOT drilling
You don’t need to drill the alphabet.
You don’t need to stress about the alphabet.
Have some alphabet toys and have some fun… and keep remember: they learned their animal names and sounds just fine. This will happen too.