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The alphabet: Preparing your child for school-Part one / By: Caren Urling

Posted Nov 17 2008 5:47pm

In my next few articles, I will be discussing how we, as parents, can help prepare our children for school.  I will begin by giving you a variety of ways to teach the alphabet.  You don’t need to be an educator to practice these activities in your home.  Not only will your children be learning, but you are creating a bonding experience that you and your children will never forget.

Let’s begin by discussing the abc song.  Studies show that the brain responds to music; consequently learning is faster with song.  So, although you may not sound like Celine Dion, your child will never know the difference.  You will be their own personal singing star, with a learning twist, of course!

My sister told me that both of her children learned to recognize their alphabet at a very young age.  She would be in the kitchen cooking dinner and would put her toddlers in their high chairs.  In between her cutting, mixing, and baking, she would use flash cards with her kids.  They were getting to spend time with mommy, and she was able to finish her dinner.  In my opinion, Leap Frog Flash cards are the best flash cards that will stand the test of time.  I found mine at Walmart for under 10 dollars, and they have lasted for four of my children. 

Games, games, and more games! With the increase of parents being involved in the learning process, toy makers are jumping on the band wagon.  Leap Frog is the best known education toy maker, especially for early letter recognition and phonics, but there are quite a few more toy makers that are participating in making learning fun.   Turn off the t.v., and turn on the fun!

To help my older kids learn their alphabet, we did a lot of crafts and fun worksheets. We would work on one letter a week, to really make the letter stick.  My kids would learn letter recognition, letter sounds, and words that begin with that letter through a variety of activities.  For example, when we were working on the letter A, we would make crafts that revolve around A (an alligator puppet, fingerprint ants, apple prints, paper plate aquariums, and a role-play day of being an astronaut).  A great site for free activities is First School.

The kitchen is my kids favorite place to learn.  This is especially true when it comes to reinforcing the alphabet.   When you are learning specific letters,  try to incorporate it into your meal planning.  If you are learning about O ’s. you can go to the grocery and find numerous varieties of oranges.  Try taste-testing the different kinds of oranges to find out what kind your child likes best.  Then, use their favorite to make home-made orange juice!  For the rest of the week, make other foods that begin with the letter O for the entire week.  Part of the fun is to keep them guessing what food will come next!

Of course, you can always go the old-fashioned method that is tried and true, good book and Videos.  The books that I love to read to my early readers are TheSound Box Series by Jane Belk Moncure and The Adventure in Alphabet Town Series by various authors.  I first found these great books at my local library, but then I ran across them at Goodwill for a quarter.  Again, I can't say enough for Leap Frog's learning videos.  My kids will never forget " w hat's happening" with the w sound because of these wonderful videos!  When your two year old who doesn't like to talk can walk around the house singing his letter sounds, you know the video must be a good one!  Also, check out Barney's many alphabet videos, Richard Scarry's Learning Videos, and the many others you will find at the local library. 

Above all, remember that this should be a positive experience for both you and your child.  These early steps can set the stage for your child's attitude and appetite for learning.  So, by all means, bring on the alphabet and bring on the fun!


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