Helping your child learn the names and sounds of letters

Before they can learn to read, children need to understand that words are made up of individual letters and that each letter has its own name and sound.

Children learn about letters in stages, usually in the following order:

  • Being exposed to letter names, often through an alphabet book or song. family playing with letters
  • Recognizing their own names in print.
  • Learning most letter names.
  • Starting to recognize the shapes of letters.
  • Matching letter names with their sounds.
  • Practicing printing letters.

Ideas to try

  • Share alphabet books with your child.  List of titles
  • Use magnetic or paper letter sets to match upper and lower case, spell names and simple words.
  • Form letters with playdough. Easy playdough recipe [PDF]
  • Trace letters in sand, sugar or salt.
  • Cut letter shapes from sandpaper and mount them on cardboard.  Help your child feel the shape of each letter.
  • Talk about letters that are most interesting to your child.
  • Have your child look for things around the house that start with the sound of a certain letter: Buttons, ball and beads for "B" (buh sound).
  • Print traceable alphabet worksheets from Handwriting for Kids.