High Five: Letter Recognition

Give me an R! Give me an E! Give me an A! Give me a D! Letter recognition is one of the first steps on the way to learning how to read. Kids need to be able to remember the letter name, what it sounds like and how to recognize it in their environment. Here are a few fun ways to bring that practice into your everyday routine.

Library storytimes often have a “Letter of the Day.” They will show pictures of things that start with that letter, read books that feature that letter or sing a song about something that begins with the letter.

You can pick your own letter of the day. All day long, when there is an opportunity, find it on signs, on cereal boxes or in the mail. Or search for things around the house that start with the letter. You could make the letter shape (like K, T or F) with your bodies or hands. Trace the letter in something fun and tactile like shaving cream or shape it out of play dough. Print or trace a big outline of the letter and have your kiddo cut up magazines to find pictures of things that start with the letter and make a collage of the letter. If you do that for each letter, eventually you can put together your own alphabet book.

Here is a list of letter A books and songs, but you don’t have to start with the letter A. You can start with the first letter of your child’s name or their pet’s name. Following what sparks their curiosity is a good rule of thumb. You don’t have to read alphabet books from beginning to end, either, especially if the book doesn’t have a story. You can skip around and look at the pictures that interest your child. Try it out with a few of these alphabet books.

Understanding how the shapes of letters are similar or different can help children recognize them. If you have plastic letter magnets, try having your children sort them by which ones have holes in them, or which ones have straight lines versus curves. You can have them try to find the letters on a keyboard for a fun tactile way to practice recognizing the shapes.

You can try a few of these at a time, gauging the difficulty level for your child and adjusting. Keep it fun by doing it for short periods of time and returning to old favorites for a confidence boost. Focus on the effort rather than the result to help them understand that mistakes and failures are just an opportunity to learn and grow. Be their cheerleader and praise the process, not the outcome. - Crystal (Downtown)