How to teach your toddler the alphabet: practical and creative ways to approach letter recognition for toddlers and preschoolers.
Wondering how to teach your child to recognize the letters of the alphabet? It’s never too early to start on letter recognition! In fact, the earlier, the better!
But how exactly do you teach a toddler letter recognition?
Aside from fun alphabet activities and worksheets, there are quite a few tricks I’ve learned throughout my years as a preschool teacher and toddler mom. Unfortunately, there’s no one right way to teach your toddler the alphabet. The approach you need to take with your child will be unique to your parenting style and your toddler’s personality.
Teaching toddlers letters should be fun for everyone involved. Let’s jump right in with the ways you can make learning an enjoyable and easy experience for both you and your toddler.
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How To Teach Your Toddler The Alphabet
1. Surround Them With Letters
The more you expose your toddler to letters in their everyday lives, the better.
Here are a few of the things we have around:
- Magnets (I ordered these magnetic letters)
- Foam Letters (we love these)
- Puzzles (our favorite alphabet puzzle)
I started buying alphabet magnets and foam letters when my son was about one year old, and after a few months, he started really showing interest in them. He would bring the foam letters up to me, or point to different alphabet magnets, and I would tell him what letter each one was.
It seemed to really spark an interest in the alphabet! It also leads me to my next tip…
2. Talk About Letters Every Chance You Get
I’m all for letter recognition printables and fun activities to teach toddlers the alphabet, but nothing beats simply incorporating letters into your every day life. If you’re feeling lost on where to start when teaching your 2 year old the letters of the alphabet, just start by talking about them daily!
If you follow tip number one, this will come naturally. You’ll have so many letters around the house that you’re bound to see several throughout the day.
Take every chance you can to show them letters, and talk about the differences.
3. Sing The ABC’s
Yeah, I know, this is basic. But it really does help! They might not sing with you for a while, it just depends on the child. But singing the ABC song is always helpful.
4. Treat Teaching Letter Recognition To Your Toddler Like Shapes
When you approach teaching your toddler to recognize letters as if you were teaching them to recognize shapes, it’s a game changer. At least it was for me.
When teaching a young toddler letter recognition, they’ll likely view learning letters the same as learning shapes.
They don’t necessarily have the ability to understand that letters make different “sounds,” which make up different words. But they will learn to recognize “B,” based on the shape, and will sometimes get it confused with “P,” or “R”.
Understand that your toddler is learning to recognize different letters based on their shape, and not because they grasp the concept of reading or writing.
5. Give Alphabet Activities A Try
There are hundreds of alphabet activities for toddlers that can be done at home. Some require a bit of planning and setup, while others can be thrown together at a moment’s notice.
You can choose to take a structured approach by planning out different activities each day or focusing on a specific letter.
Every child is unique. Some may enjoy focusing on a certain letter for an entire week until it’s engrained, while another may want to learn several at a time.
At the bottom of this article you’ll find a few of my favorite alphabet activities for toddlers.
6. Print Out Some Letter Recognition Worksheets
Depending on your toddler’s age and attention span, you may find that they learn best through printable worksheets and coloring pages.
For instance, my son loves watching me write out different letters as well as coloring in big alphabet coloring pages.
Check out my Halloween Alphabet Practice Worksheets, or scroll to the bottom of this article for more printable alphabet worksheets.
7. Follow Your Toddler’s Lead
Are they going through a huge mental leap? If your toddler is learning a letter a day with ease, introduce two letters each day, or three, or four. If they’re just not catching on or they seem disinterested in learning their letters, don’t push it.
Let them take the lead. If you push anything on a stubborn toddler, they likely won’t retain any of the information. Try your best to make it fun and test out different approaches. And always remember that every child learns at their own pace.
8. Don’t Overwhelm Your Toddler or Preschooler With Too Much Information
Besides the fact that your toddler will quickly lose interest if they’re overwhelmed with a ton of information, they may also shy away from learning more if they feel defeated.
Don’t worry about teaching them how to write letters of the alphabet correctly, or even how to sound out different words. Start with the basics and work your way up to those concepts.
“Failing” is a part of life, and it’s okay for our kids to experience disappointment or the feeling of being wrong. But in their first few years of life, we want to focus on making sure they feel proud of the things that they do “right”.
Don’t expect them to be able to write their ABC’s when they’re not ready, but don’t settle either. It’s a delicate balancing act of encouraging new things without pushing them too hard.
9. Make It Fun
Teach the alphabet to your toddler in a way that you feel they’ll be most receptive to. Every child is different. The simple act of clapping and singing may be enough to excite some toddlers, while others may want to learn the alphabet by mimicking your actions or playing with a sensory bin.
No matter what, make learning new letters an exciting and enjoyable experience for your little one, and they’ll be much more likely to want to learn more.
For Parents Who Allow Screen Time:
10. Watch An Episode of Sesame Street Every Week
I give credit where credit is due. I firmly believe that Sesame Street has played an important role in getting my son excited about learning letters (and a number of other things at that).
If you allow screen time, I highly suggest letting your toddler watch an episode of Sesame Street every week, or even every other day. My son is always so proud to see the characters talking about a letter or a concept that he understands, and it brightens his day.
P.S. – If your toddler loves the letter “Y” as much as mine does, show them the episode with Norah Jones singing “I Don’t Know Why”.
11. Download Educational Apps For Learning The Alphabet
If our kids are going to play on our phones, might as well download some educational apps, right? Here are some fun apps for teaching toddlers the alphabet:
- Dr. Seuss’s ABC – Read & Learn
- Word Wagon
- ABC Go
- AlphaTots Alphabet
- ABC Alphabet Phonics (This one is my son’s favorite, and it’s the simplest one.)
12. Try Letter Recognition Games Online
PBS Kids has a bunch of awesome letter recognition games on their website. There are plenty of others as well. With a quick Google search, you’re bound to find something that matches your toddler’s level.
The Best Way To Teach Alphabet Recognition
The biggest tip I hope you takeaway from this article is to surround your toddler or preschooler with letters and incorporate learning into your every day life.
It doesn’t have to be a chore or a sit down activity every day. Make it feel natural! Point out different letters as you see them, which will be easy when they’re surrounded by them!
Fun Ways To Teach The Alphabet (My Favorite Resources)
Letter Recognition Printables
These are just a few of my favorite printable alphabet games and worksheets! Even if some seem above your toddler’s skill level, these worksheets and printables are great for introducing your little one to letters!
Alphabet Activities For Toddlers
Here are a few of my go-to alphabet activities to get my son engaged in learning about the letters of the alphabet!
I hope these resources and tips help you teach your toddler the alphabet!
How old is your toddler, and how have you started introducing letter recognition to them? Do you have any questions? Let me know in the comments below!
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