Teach your child the letters

Jun 16, 2011 at 11:13 a.m. ET

Learning letters is your child’s first step toward reading. Don’t wait until she starts school -- start now. Work with your child to help her learn letters, and she’ll have a leg up when she gets into the classroom.

Little boy singing

Learning letters is a huge accomplishment for your child and a huge task for you. It'll take a lot of work and patience, but your child can get to this milestone with your help. Dedicate a little time every day to the task, and he'll have it before you know it.

4 Preschool skills needed for kindergarten success >>

1Sing it.

Before your child can learn about each letter, she needs to know about the alphabet in general. Start with the alphabet song. Sing it in the car, in the bathtub and while you put her shoes on. Sing that song every time you get a chance. Eventually, she'll know the song by heart. From there, teach her to say the letters without singing.

2Write it.

Once he can say his letters, teach your child to write them. Write the letters yourself, one at a time, and have him follow your lead by first tracing what you wrote, then making his own. Buy lined paper, or draw your own lines on a chalk or dry-erase board. Start with only capital letters, because she'll get confused if you try to teach both at the same time. The fact that "A" and "a" is the same letter is confusing.

3teach One letter at a time.

Focus on one letter at a time. Pick a letter each day and work toward mastering it. Draw and sound out the letter; have her do the same. Spend some time thinking of words that start with that letter, and hunt for items that begin with it all day long. At the end of the day, if she seems like she's mastered the letter, move on to the next in the morning. If she's not quite grasping it, there's no harm in spending another day on that letter.

5 Fun activities to make learning fun for your kindergartener >>

4use Flashcards.

Buy them or make your own out of index cards or construction paper. Start by asking her only to name the letters. Once she can do that easily, take it to another level by asking her to tell you what a letter sounds like or to name a word that starts with each letter. Later on, use the flashcards to have your child match up capital and lowercase letters.

Alphabet & letter printouts >>

5Make a game out of it.

Practice letters throughout your day, whenever you get a chance. Point to letters on magazine covers in line at the grocery store or the doctor's office and ask her to name them. When you're in the car, name a letter and have her spot something out the window that begins with that letter. Make cookies in the shapes of letters and have her tell you which letter she'd like.

The alphabet song

A modern sing & chant version

Gather your kids and sing along!

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