Teaching about Letters
Children who enter kindergarten knowing many letter names are more successful readers than those who do not have this skill. There are many strategies adults can use when working with young children to help them name letters, beginning with recognizing the letters in their own names.
The following is an excerpt from Teaching Our Youngest.
Children who enter kindergarten knowing many letter names tend to have an easier time learning to read than do children who have not learned these skills. In fact, it is unreasonable to believe that children will be able to read until they can recognize and name a number of letters. To read, children recognize letters and know how to connect these individual letters and sometimes combinations of letters with the sounds of spoken words.
It is important for young children to be able to:
- Recognize and name letters.
- Recognize beginning letters in familiar words (especially their names).
- Recognize both capital and lowercase letters.
- Relate some letters to the specific sounds they represent
As you plan your instruction, make sure that the children in your care have many opportunities to learn to identify letters, to write letters, and to find out how letters function to represent the sounds in words.
In your classroom, you should have at children's eye level displays of the alphabet, such as large alphabet cards. Alphabet blocks, large plastic or paper letters, and materials for making letters, such as yarn, pipe cleaners, and play dough also should be available. A writing center can be creating in your room where children can go and experiment with different writing tools. And, of course, you should have a collection of alphabet books to read aloud and alphabet songs to teach the children.
Here are some things that you can do to help your children learn about letters:
- Encourage the children to notice that letters are all around them.
- Encourage the children to play with letters.
- Give children plastic alphabet tiles and encourage them to spell their names and other words they like.
- Say to the children, "See the letters on this keyboard? Press one and watch the letter come up on the screen."
- Play games with line segments where children try to guess which letter you are writing as you draw parts of the letter one at a time
- Allow children to experiment with letters, using magnetic letters on the chalkboard.
- Help the children write letters.
- Help the children learn the alphabet.
- Help the children hear the sounds the letters can make.
"Teaching about Letters." Teaching Our Youngest. Early Childhood-Head Start Task Force. ED/HHS. 2002. English.
Last Reviewed: September 2009
Last Updated: October 2, 2014