By Deanna Mascle
Teaching your young child the alphabet should be a high priority. Your child should not wait until preschool or kindergarten to learn their letters. Knowledge of their ABCs is one of the prime indicators of reading success for children.
When you work on the alphabet with your child make sure the child can recognize all the letters of the alphabet both in order and out of sequence plus both upper and lower case. In addition, as the child grows more comfortable with the letters begin introducing the various sounds that go along with the letters. It easy to then take a step closer to reading by naming words that also begin with that letter or sound.
While many parents succumb to the temptation of buying expensive learning aids these are not necessary and may well provide more distraction than aid for the learning process. Instead simply invest in a set of plastic refrigerator magnets and call it a day. Coloring sheets are available for free on the internet so why spend a lot of money on expensive programs?
The best, and cheapest, method is simply using the world around you and simple, familiar items available at home. One fun easy method is to use food. You have food in your kitchen and you need to feed your child several times a day so why not combine lessons with snacks and meals?
Your food lessons plans can be as complicated or as simple as you would like.
Initially you may choose to simply serve foods that begin with the "letter of the day", such as B for Banana and A for Apple and M for Marshmallow and so on.
As your child grows more adept at the alphabet then you can have the child tell you what letters are on her plate, such as S for Spaghetti or E for Eggs.
While most parents don't encourage their children to play with their food you can make an exception for certain lessons. Make homemade pretzels or breadsticks in the shape of various letters. Use icing to decorate cookies or cupcakes with letters. Allowing children to experience the alphabet through taste, touch, and manipulation will help cement the knowledge.
The truth is that the best way to teach your child the alphabet is to make is a regular part of your daily life. If your child experiences the alphabet in various ways and through a variety of methods then they will be more confident of their knowledge of their ABCs and will have a much easier time building on that knowledge as they develop other emergent literacy skills. Giving your son an apple and incorporating that apple into a lesson about the letter A will feed both his brain and his body.