Parents often ask, “ How can I teach my child the letters of the alphabet?” Drilling with flash cards is one way, but researchers have found it is not the most effective! Instead, alphabet recognition can begin in simple ways such as saying the letters of your child’s name as you write it, pointing out a word in a book title that begins with the same first letter as their name, using newspaper or magazine ads for “letter hunts” and circling all the A’s... etc. These activities are fun for your child and are the most appropriate method of “instruction” for this age group.
Showing children that letters have a purpose... communicating ideas and feelings, gives them incentive to learn the letters and the associated sounds. Pointing out that the function of print can be accomplished by writing stories or letters that your child dictates to you. You may also want to try letting your child write his/her own words with “kindergarten print”. He/she would write the word as it sounds. This type of letter/sound experimentation is a vital step in the development of future writing. It is as important as crawling is to walking! So... please don’t try to correct their spelling. Allow them to experiment and believe them when they tell you what their “word” says!
When your child draws a picture, write a few sentences that your child dictates to you about his/her drawing. Help your child notice all the words in his/her environment: store signs, cereal boxes, road signs, Burger King, McDonald’s, etc. As you write and read with your child, help him/her notice that writing goes from left to right and from top to bottom.
Take time to read to/with your child EVERY DAY!! This is the single MOST IMPORTANT thing you can do to help your child be successful in school. Please remember to read the pictures as well as the words. Take a few moments to talk about the main characters of the book... describe them and discuss the reasons they acted as they did in the story. Retelling the action that took place and the order of events in the story are other important parts of sharing a book. Books with repetitive phrases such as, “I’ll huff and I’ll puff....” offer a wonderful chance for children to participate in the story.
Offer pencils, crayons, markers, scissors and glue to your child along with old catalogs, magazines and “junk mail”. (coloring books are fine too...) Let them scribble, draw, cut and glue... making sure they are also expected to help with the clean-up!
Most importantly... learn to relax and enjoy each other’s company! If you talk with your child often (complimenting their attempts at writing, reading and creating), read to your child daily, and offer them times to use crayons, markers, glue and scissors ... you are doing what is right and best for your child!
Milaca Kindergarten Teachers