Step 1: Learning the Alphabet
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There is no “right age” for a child to learn how to read. It all depends on you as their teacher and them as an individual. When are they ready? When are you ready? These are the right questions to ask before getting started.
That being said, there are some readiness milestones that will help you to know when your child is ready to start.
Does your child verbally repeat words/sounds that they hear?
Does your child follow through with simple commands?
If you can answer “yes” to both then no matter what age your child is you can feel confident that they are ready to learn how to read! Step 1 in teaching your child how to read is helping them learn to recognize the letters of the alphabet by name. Each letter of any alphabet has a name that it is identified by.
The Capital Letters
First help your child learn the name of each capital letter.
Hint: It is helpful to start with the capital letters of the alphabet first before introducing the lower case letters.
The best way to do this is by using 3 of the 4 learning modalities; visual, auditory, and tactile. Combining the three senses of sight, sound, and touch will help your child to create a stronger memory of what they are experiencing. It is helpful to use learning tools that appeal to these three senses.
Visual learning tools include;
- flash cards (read my post on how to make them fun)
There are a wide variety of alphabet books that introduce the individual letters of the alphabet in a creative way. For example if your child loves Super Heroes, take the time to find a Super Hero alphabet book!
Hint: Keep your child motivated and engaged by using an alphabet book that focuses on your child’s interest and teaches the alphabet.
Auditory learning tools include;
- singing a song
- saying it out loud
- listening to someone else say it
- listening to music
The alphabet song is a great example of an auditory tool. Sing it to your child or sing it together while you touch the letters on a poster or in a book!
Tactile learning tools include;
- magnetic, foam, or block letters
I love puzzles because they are an excellent interactive tool that requires hands on work. Plus they are a great way to combine sight, sound, and touch into one fun learning/teaching moment.
Hint: Once your child can tell you, without prompt, what the name of each capital alphabet letter is then you are ready to introduce the lowercase letters.
The Lowercase Letters
Second, help your child learn to recognize the lowercase letters. Some lowercase letters are easily recognizable now that your child has learned the capital letters by name. There are a handful of letters that look exactly the same as their capital, just smaller:
Ss Uu Ww Xx Cc Kk Oo Vv Zz
The rest of the lowercase letters have important differences that your child will need to be familiar with in order to be successful at learning how to read. Again it will be important to use learning tools that incorporate the three modalities.
Also, make sure that you find a tool that has both capital and lowercase letters so that you can help your child make the connection between the two. This will speed up their learning because you are building on what your child already knows.
Hint: When working with young children it’s helpful to explain “capital and lowercase” as “big and small” (whatever appeals to your child and helps them to understand the concept; with my second daughter is was “mommies and babies”) but make sure they also hear and know the words “capital and lowercase”.
Once your child can correctly match the capital letter with it’s lowercase letter on their own and tell you its name, CONGRATULATIONS you have completed step 1! You are ready to move on to Step 2.
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