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  • Writer's pictureAshley

How to teach your child letter names and sounds

Updated: Dec 17, 2021

Are you working to teach your child their letter names and sounds? Congratulations! You are taking the first step toward helping your child become a lifelong reader and writer.

Before we go any further, let’s take one moment to talk about the prerequisites for learning to read and write. Research shows that children need to have phonological awareness skills in order to succeed with written words. Phonological awareness means hearing, identifying, and then manipulating those sounds. These are skills that you should practice before and during letter name and sound learning. The beginning skills that your child will be ready for are rhyming, alliteration (do words start with the same sound), words in sentences, and syllables.

I will definitely be writing a blog post about this at a later time. For now, just make sure you are practicing these skills along with letter names and sounds.

Now that we’ve covered that, let’s jump into how to teach your child letter names and sounds!

Make learning meaningful by starting with something as important as their name. They probably hear and see this word the most often and will be excited to learn how to spell and write it. As you teach your child to identify the letters and name them, be sure to add in the sound they make. Once they’ve got those letters down, you can work on the letters in other family members' names.

I have so many kindergarten students who get excited because they know how to spell their siblings’ names! Gaining ownership of these important names is a great way to encourage letter recognition, naming, and sound instruction.

Teaching your child letter names and sounds should mostly be hands-on, fun, and engaging. Young kids have short attention spans and need extra movement and play in order to commit things to memory. They also need a lot of repetition so having multiple fun ways to practice will benefit them greatly.

There are thousands upon thousands of ideas out there and since I can’t cover them all I will give you some of my favorites that are easy and economical.

Make learning extra exciting by incorporating sensory writing. Make a salt, sand, or sugar tray. Write outside in the sand or dirt. Spread some shaving cream on a cookie sheet. Other ways to write letters and say their sounds include chalk, bathtub paints, painting on paper, or outside with liquid watercolors. When you and your child write the letter, make sure to say its name and its sound.

Looking for something a little more contained? Create a sensory bin filled with almost anything you want and add in magnetic letters or laminated paper with letters. Let your child have fun digging through the bin to find the letters. When they find them they can identify the letter, trace it with their finger, and make the sound.

If your child is interested in creating and crafting, try these ideas. Put some liquid glue in a small container and use a paintbrush to spread it. Write the letters your child is working on and have them paint over the letter with glue. Then they can cover the glue with glitter, feathers, yarn, colored noodles, beans, or any other material that will stick. You can try to have your child squeeze the glue bottle but this is very hard for many young ones.

Another hands-on way to practice is to build letters with playdough, wiki sticks, pipe cleaners, or yarn. Make sure that your child has a model that they can lay their creation over top of to make sure it is correct.

Luckily, we live in a world where the internet gives us so many free resources. I highly suggest checking out some of my favorite YouTube channels for letter names and sound videos.

There are also many different alphabet books and even books for each individual letter. You can always do a quick YouTube search for letter books and find a great read aloud.

Teaching your child letter names and sounds should be a fun adventure. While flashcards and structured practice definitely should make an appearance and have their own place, our young learners need lots of hands-on practice and fun.

If your child seems to be struggling with letter name and sound retention be sure to check in with their preschool or kindergarten teacher. Early intervention really is the best and easiest answer to preventing struggling readers and the frustration they face.

Are you looking for more ways to make learning at home fun and engaging? Hop over to claim your FREE download >> 3 Ways to Make Learning at Home Fun!

What activities do you enjoy doing with your kids to practice letter names and sounds? Let me know in the comments :)


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