I was recently asked a question about learning the alphabet. The little lad is starting school next year and the parent was wondering if I could provide some suggestions as to how to encourage her little guy to learn to read and write letters. As I provided her with some hints, I realised it was a pretty common question with parents. It’s pretty easy for me to whip out ideas because I’ve taught it, day in, day out for 5 years. My brain is now trained to think this way. It wasn’t always like that though. So I thought I’d provide some realistic activities you can try at home. And when I say realistic, I mean they probably don’t belong on something like Pinterest where most things look amazing, and way too unrealistic for a busy parent to actually do (in my opinion!).
The first thing is, you learn pretty quickly as a teacher to not get too hung up on the writing of letters, especially in the early stages of schooling. Exposure, immersion and experience with letters is the key. The writing will come over time. as they are able to visualise the letters in their head.
So where do you start? I would only start with focussing on two, maybe three letters at a time. If you focus on all the letters at once, children get really overwhelmed and will lose interest fast.
A sand tray: A sand tray is so easy to make. Pull out baking tray. Add a layer of salt or sand. Done. Put the letters you want them to focus on in front of them, make sure it’s nice and large. You can help them with which way the letters go, but if they aren’t getting it quite right, it doesn’t matter just yet. They are looking at the letter, making the letter and saying the letter! That’s a lot of learning initially! Yes, they aren’t using a pencil, but remembering this is early stages.
Playdough: Grab that playdough out and have them form the letters you’re focussing on. Make a BIG deal about how clever they are and they will probably want to make some different ones. If they are ready for it, maybe they could make an ‘apple’ for ‘A’ and so on. Great fun and a great way to ingrain those letters in their little minds.
Treasure hunt: Take some alphabet letters (magnetic ones are fun!) and hide them around the house. Don’t do them all! Just a small handful. When they find them, have them bring the letters back and put them on an alphabet chart. You can make the chart in seconds by just printing the alphabet on some paper. Easy! When they are finished have them skip around the chart and sing their ABC!
Get Crafty: Paint, create, throw glitter, get crazy, whatever! Just let them go with it. And give them plenty of praise when they have had a go at it. Put it up in their room and as they walk past, just say “Remember when you made that? What letters were they again?” Build it up, and before you know it, they will be getting to know their ABCs!
Are you after some tips on how to ready your child for school or just their learning in general? Feel free to comment below, message me over Facebook or drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org
Will you be trying any of these at home?
This is linked to an article I wrote for Bub Hub, regarding helping a child learn their name.
Linked to IBOT with Essentially Jess.