ABC is easy as 123, right? But how do you teach the ABCs to preschoolers and Kindergartners? Read on to find out how to teach the alphabet to 4-year-olds (and 3-year-olds and 5-year-olds, too!).
Teaching the Alphabet
If you have ever wondered how to teach the alphabet to 4-year-olds (or even how to teach the alphabet to 3-year-olds), know this: it is completely doable. To a young child, everything is new. Every day they are encountering “firsts” and learning to name them: their first backpack, their first omelet, their first pumpkin, etc.
Learning the names of the letters is no different. If the child can look at a cookie and say, “Cookie,” then he is ready to look at an “A” and say its name.
How to Teach the Alphabet to Preschoolers
Kinds explore their world with their five senses. They investigate in ways we do not. While adults generally rely on visual clues alone, kids will learn by listening, hearing, seeing, touching–even tasting–new objects.
If you were to teach the alphabet to adults, you would likely start with printed letters on paper. You would also move at a quick pace.
This is not the tack to take with little learners. Learning the alphabet needs to be as multisensory as possible. And you need to move slowly; take the time to let these brand-new shapes and sounds sink in. Learning a letter a week is a great pace with which to begin. You can always speed up or slow down the pace if you need to.
Order to Teach the Alphabet
There are 26 letters in the alphabet, and each letter has a lowercase and uppercase version. Some lowercase and uppercase letters look nearly identical except for size (for example, “X” and “x”), while others are completely distinct from one another (like “G” and “g”). Where do you start?
How to Teach the Alphabet – Preschool
With young learners, start with the lowercase letters. These are the most frequent letters your kids will see in the world around them, so they are easy to point out. You can tackle the letters in order: start with “a” and end with “z,” or you can teach the vowels first (a, e, i, o, and u) and then the remaining letters. Remember, kids are learning new things all the time. If you teach them about various letters, they are not intimidated. For them, it is like learning the difference between frosted and plain doughnuts.
How to Teach the Alphabet – Kindergartners
Kindergartners often learn how to recognize the letters in conjunction with learning how to write them. For Kindergartners, you will want to start with the letters that are easiest to write (or at least the ones whose strokes build on each other). Here is a suggested order:
- Letters built off “c”: c, o, e, a, d, g, q
- Counter-clockwise letters: b, p
- Stick letters: l, t, f, i, j, k, r, x, y
- Letters with humps: h, r, m, n, u
- Curvy letters: s
- Angled letters: v, w, z
Fun Ways to Teach the Alphabet
Learning the alphabet does not need to be dull. There are fun, multisensory ways to teach the alphabet.
Use Letters You Can Touch
Whether you opt for sandpaper letters, foam letters, or wooden letters, you want letters the child can touch and feel and examine from all sides. Children are better able to memorize a shape when they can explore it.
Look for Letters
Hide the letter of the day in various places for the child to find. Make art with letter cut-outs. You can also buy letter cookie cutters to trim food or scented playdough into the letter of the day. Remember, the more senses you can involve, the better!
Trace the Letters
You can trace letters the standard way with pencil and paper, or you can think out of the box. Trace letters in sand or grits, use WikkiStix to form letters, use paint dotters to fill in block letters, or write the letters in shaving cream for the child to trace and smear.
Sing, Sing, Sing
Becoming familiar with the names of the letters is a memory peg on which the child can later hang the letter symbol. Sing the ABC song until your kids have it completely memorized. You don’t have to sing it only at reading time. Sing it as you wash hands, pick up toys, before snack, etc. Repetition builds mastery!
Hide and Seek
Read an alphabet book and have the child find the letter of the day. Whenever he spots it, celebrate by letting him blow a kazoo or give him a high five.
How to Teach the Alphabet to Preschoolers and Kindergartners
Preschoolers and Kindergartners are busy and love to explore. If you approach teaching the alphabet as a multisensory activity, your kids will learn their ABCs in a snap!