Ever wonder why so many toys and books for young children have the letters of the alphabet somehow included in them?  ‘A’ is for ‘Apple’, ‘B’ is for ‘Bee’, ‘C’ for cat and so on.

Turns out, there’s a very good developmental reason behind this.

Children's knowledge of letter names and recognition of letters is a strong predictor of their success in learning to read. Not knowing letter names is related to children's difficulty in learning letter sounds and in recognizing words.

Put simply, if children don’t know the alphabet letters and sounds, they can’t begin to read.

Here is a summary of what you should know when teaching a child:

  • First, children learn letter names (e.g. by singing songs including the “alphabet song”).
  • Then, children learn to ‘recognize’ letters which is what is happening when you say ‘point to A’.
  • Next, they can ‘recall’ letters on their own, by picking up a letter and naming it.
  • Last, children learn letter sounds (i.e. ‘letter-sound correspondence’ so that the letter ‘S’ is the sound “sss”).

Order of Teaching Sounds

Research and experience shows children learn letter-sound relationships at different rates. An easier pace to keep is to teach your child 2-4 letter-sound relationships a week. Another thing to consider is to focus on teaching the sounds that are more frequent in english first, including s, p, m, h, a, and t.

Try not to teach sounds together that are easy to mix up visually (e.g. b and d), or ones that sound alike such as  ‘i’ and ‘e’.

What are you waiting for? Pull out those alphabet books, blocks, and games, or visit your local library for some fun. Subscribe for information straight to your inbox (bi-weekly).