One of the basic questions I always receive is how to teach my child the ABCs. Since they are truly the cornerstone of our language and reading, it is imperative that your child has a strong grasp on each letter. You can start working on the alphabet as soon as you would like. Here are a few different activities for each age group to help keep your child engaged and learning as they grow.
ABC Activities by Age
Once again, you can start working on the ABCs as soon as a newborn. Here are three activities for your child as they continue to grow!
ABC Ideas for Under Age 2:
- Sing, Sing Sing: From the day they are born, simply sing to your child. Research has shown that singing helps your child develop listening and language skills from day one. You can sing the ABCs or even your favorite pop song, just sing!
- Just Talk to Them: I know many mom's feel like they are losing their mind, talking to their baby all day. Actually, you are developing their language capabilities. The more you talk to your child, the more they are able to learn new words and phrases. Talk to them in full, but basic sentences. Make sure you encourage them to talk back as well, even if it is not words yet.
- Introduce Letters during Playtime: At this age, along with most other ages, it is important that learning is incorporated into their playtime. Do not try to sit down and work letters, this will only lead to frustration. Simply talk about letters as you play, including sounds!
ABC Ideas for Age 2-3:
- Encourage Them to Color/ Write: This is the age when they are starting to develop their fine motor skills. Encourage your child to write and color. Even with scribbles, you will start to see the basics of letter forming happening. Letters are, after all, just a combination of straight lines and curves.
- Start Introducing the Letters: At this age, you should be able to start introducing the shapes of the letters and helping your child learn their names. You can simply talk about each letter and the sound they make.
- Learn to Spell their Name: Nothing is more exciting to a child than to learn what letters spell their name. This is a perfect time to teach your child to spell their name. I usually set the letters of their name to a simple song, because songs help your child retain information. We sing their name song in the car, in the bath, and pretty much anytime we are chatting!
ABC Ideas for Age 3-4:
- Time to Get Writing: Now is the chance to have your kids start writing the letters. Starting with their name, you can start encouraging your kids to write their names. Find fun ways to write their names, including in shaving cream, salt, or sand!
- Find Letters from Memory: Kids this age love any sort of hunt and find activity. Hide letters around your house, hunt for letters in a book, or match and search together and help continue to work on letter identification. Keeping it fun and playful will allow your child to stay engaged and ready to learn.
- Building with Letters: You can start showing your child how letters build words by placing letters on different blocks, paper, or cartons and having them actually build with the letters. As always, start with the letters of their name to introduce this activity.
ABC Ideas for Age 4-5:
- Ready for Sounds: This is the age for sounds! Start talking about the different sounds and how different letters combine into sounds. For example: ch, sh, etc.
- Encourage them to Try: As you work on sounds, it is important to encourage them to try. Even if it is not correct, if you encourage them to give the sounds a go, it will make reading much easier down the road. Have them try to sound out words or let them try to listen for sounds as you read a story.
- Match and Connect: Along with sounds, you want to make sure your child is making the connection between the sound and the letter. Challenge your child to find the word that starts with a certain sound or ends with a certain sound. You could also say a sound and have them hunt on a page of a book to find the correct letter.
ABC Ideas for Age 5+:
- Ready to Read: Now it is time! Kids are ready to read once they are showing mastery of all the skills above. Start with small two/ three letter words. Also, you want to make sure the words are ones that you can actually sound out, such as cat, van, sit, etc.
- Keep the Learning Going: Kids will pick up on these activities quickly at this age. You want to make sure they keep challenging themselves without being too frustrating on their end. I love the Bob Books series, as they continue to gradually become more difficult without most children even noticing. Keep positive and help them learn!
- Ready to Write a Story: Now that they are reading their own books, make sure they are also practicing writing. Spelling will come with time, so focus on the basic sounds and building their own stories. Also, some of those first stories are always my favorite keepsake, they are so much fun!
More than anything, for all ages, you should be reading together! Make sure to set aside some time each day to read and learn together. Children of all ages learn by seeing others, so watching you read to them is the perfect chance for you to show them your love of reading and help foster their own. Even the older kids will enjoy hearing books together. Taking the time to read will quickly become your favorite part of the day!
Gym and Learn Director