This week's Key Developmental Indicator (KDI) in preschool is #D25--Alphabetic Knowledge. Learning letters should be a FUN challenge for children! Often though, the fun gets taken away when adults put too much stress on children to immediately understand and memorize the letters at younger and younger ages so that their child doesn’t “fall behind” in school. But when children are pushed to memorize letters before they are ready they often develop negative attitudes toward learning! When children are taught letters and their sounds in a loving, fun, patient, and age appropriate way, they develop a positive relationship with letters and learning that they will carry with them as they tackle other challenges during their academic journey.
We build letter and sound recognition here at school in many different ways all throughout the day. One way is through something as simple as labeling the children’s things. Each child has their own letter linked symbol (exp. Dan's symbol is a Dog) that marks their cubbies, rug spot, art clips, and sign in spot. Since “their letter” is the first letter children are generally interested in learning we use this and these symbols as a doorway
to teaching children the letters and sounds in their names and the names of their friends. We also work on letter concepts during morning message, working with physical letters at small group time, and simply by reading aloud often and pointing out letters and sounds as we go.
Ways you can help your child with their alphabetic knowledge at home include:
1. Label things! The simple act of adding words to common objects helps children connect that print carries a specific meaning. (Exp. Label the microwave, refrigerator, even your child’s bed!)
2. Provide alphabet materials. Children need hands-on experience at this age in order to learn. Puzzles, blocks, cookie cutters, magnets, and even food in the shape of letters can be a learning tool. Or you can make your own letters out of wire, play-dough, cardboard, paper, etc.
3. Point out letters. Letters and print are everywhere! Children can easily begin to connect the letter “M” to McDonald's or “W” to Walmart with a little adult guidance.
4. Read, read, read! This can’t be stressed enough! Children who are read to are known to achieve higher in school. Familiar books read over and over are often the first ones children begin to read for themselves.
5. Encourage drawing, writing, and scribbling letters. Let children use a variety of writing materials and surfaces to explore the world of writing. A great way to help them connect print to meaning is to ask them to tell you about their drawings and then write what they say on their paper. Show them their ideas can be put in print and they will be empowered to learn more about it!