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As Simple as A-B-C

print knowledge 85Sharing the alphabet with your child helps him begin to recognize the shapes of letters and link them with sounds. He will soon learn the difference between individual letters -- what they look like and what they sound like.

What you need:

Alphabet books
Glue or glue stick
Safety scissors
Paper
Pencils, crayons, markers
Alphabet magnets

What to do:

The first activities in the list below work well with younger children. As your child grows, the later activities let him do more. But keep doing the first ones as long as he enjoys them.

1. With your toddler by your side, print the letters of his name on paper and say each letter as you write it. Make a name sign for his room or other special places. Have him decorate the sign by pasting stickers or drawings on it.

2. Teach your child the alphabet song and play games using the alphabet. Some alphabet books have songs and games you can learn together. Here's one: Line up the alphabet magnets and both of you point to each letter as you sing it in the song. Sing the song slowly!

3. Look for educational videos and TV shows that feature letter learning activities for young children, such as Sesame Street. Watch such programs with your child and join in on the rhymes and songs.

4. Place alphabet magnets on your refrigerator or another smooth, safe metal surface. Ask your child to name the letters he plays with and the words he may be trying to spell.

5. Wherever you are with your child, point out certain letters in signs, billboards, posters, food containers, books, and magazines. When he is three to four years old, ask him to begin finding and naming some letters. Turn it into a game: "I Spy" with letters. "I spy an A." (Point to the letter you see in a magazine, on a cereal box, etc.) "Can you spy an A?"

6. When your child is between ages three and four, encourage him to spell and write his name. For many children, their names are one of the first words they write. At first, he may use just one or two letters (for example, Emile, nicknamed Em, uses the letter "M").

7. Make an alphabet book with your little one. Have him draw pictures (you can help). You can also cut pictures from magazines or use photos. Paste each picture into the book. With your child, write next to the picture the letter that stands for the object or person in the picture (for example, "B" for bird, "M" for milk, and so on).

When you show your child letters and words over and over again, he will identify and use them more easily when learning to read and write. He will be eager to learn when the letters and words are connected to things that are part of his life.

Source: Helping Your Child Become a Reader, U.S. Department of Education

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