How to Teach the Alphabet

Learn how to teach the alphabet from reading specialist Anne Glass in this Howcast video.


Hi. my name is Anne Glass. I'm a reading and learning specialist at a private school in New York City and I work with Kindergarteners through 3rd graders on Reading, Word Study, and Writing Skills. In addition to be a reading specialist and learning specialist, I'm also a parent and today I'm going to talk to you about topics in reading

Being able to name the letters in the alphabet is one of the critical predictors of reading success. There are several different activities that you can use to teach your child the alphabet. Most people like to start teaching using the alphabet song which is a completely acceptable way to start. In fact, most children in this country know that song; could sing it in their sleep, probably. That is a perfectly fine way to start as long as you move quickly away from singing the alphabet to saying it. Because if your child can say the alphabet without relying on a melody then you can be certain that he knows it for sure. I always like to use visual aids and I think that any teaching, when it can be multisensory, is going to be much more effective. If you can have your child say the alphabet, each letter at a time while pointing to it, they're getting that tactile feedback and also the auditory feedback from pronouncing the letter name, looking at the letter and touching it with his finger.

Another really helpful manipulative are these 3D letters. These are mine and they're just regular block letters that you can do out of order or move around. So they can be easily manipulated. And again it's a letter identification task.

Another great teaching tool I like to use is this alphabet mat. It's got the alphabet in block letters across the top as both a reminder and also a point and say task. And then you can also go back to your 3-dimensional letters and, as a separate or additional activity, put the letters in sequence going around the arc. So up here is my "M", I place the "M" on the "M". "A" and then "B" going all the way around. Knowledge of the sequence of the alphabet is also going to be really helpful to your child going forward. Simple flash cards are also a great tool. These are my upper-case flash cards and you just go one by one and ask your child to name the letter as you go through.

For more advanced alphabet learners, this is called a missing letter deck. You are prompting the child with two letters to give you the third one that's missing. So in this case it's "D", "E" and your child will say "F". Go on to the next one: "F", "G"... "H". And so on. Again, knowledge of letter names is one of the most important predictors of how quickly and easily your child will acquire early reading skills. And it's important that letter names be taught explicitly and directly, starting in preschool.

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