10 ways to teach the alphabet to your child

Give your child the foundation they need to thrive with these tips and tricks! 

Christina Levandowski

Christina Levandowski

December 12, 2023

10 ways to teach the alphabet to your child

Give your child the foundation they need to thrive with these tips and tricks! 

Christina Levandowski

Christina Levandowski

Dec 12, 2023

10 ways to teach the alphabet to your child

Give your learner the foundation they need to thrive with these tips and tricks! 

Christina Levandowski

Christina Levandowski

Dec 12, 2023

Key takeaways

  • The alphabet can be complicated – This is especially true for new learners! Take the time needed to go over vowels, letters, and sounds. 
  • The alphabet had 27 letters at one point – The 27th letter of the alphabet was known as ampersand (or &), and was abolished in 1835. Just a fun fact! 
  • Children have different learning styles that can affect the process of learning the alphabet – This is why it’s important to appeal to your learner in a variety of ways, offering them methods that appeal to visual, auditory, and kinesthetic methods of learning.

The alphabet is a fundamental part of language learning and speech and is an exciting topic to cover with your learner. The problem? Many parents get “teaching fright” when it comes to exploring such important topics. 

If that’s you, don’t worry. We’ve put together a teacher-approved, comprehensive alphabet learning guide that will help you confidently teach your learner. 

Understanding letter recognition

Letter recognition is often the first step that many take to learn the English alphabet. The alphabet as we know it mimics the one that the Greeks used. It features both uppercase and lowercase letters. Familiarizing your learner with both forms early on will be helpful as they begin to tie associated sounds to vowels and consonants later. 

There are many ways to approach letter recognition, including: 

1. Singing alphabet songs

Did you know? The definition of the word alphabet per Oxford Languages is “a set of letters in a fixed order, used to represent the basic sounds of a language.” This sounds pretty tough to remember as a standalone order — which is where the alphabet song comes in. 

The alphabet song is one of the most beloved songs of the early school years — and many of us might still mentally sing it to this day when we need to organize something in alphabetical order! 

“A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y and Z….” We bet you can almost hear it now! 

Teaching your student the alphabet song is a great way to teach them the “names” of the letters of the English alphabet for easier visual recognition (i.e., A vs. B vs. C) and the flow that the alphabet follows for categorical association later on. 

If you live in a multilingual home, you might try using an online resource that offers the alphabet song across different languages — further creating associations and a sense of familiarity with the alphabet in your child’s life. 

2. Symbols and songs

Once you’ve familiarized your learner with the alphabet song, you can take it to the next level by choosing to use the alphabet symbols in your learning process. This can be as simple as drawing the letters on the whiteboard as you sing with your student, or you may choose to use pre-made flashcards that have the letters of the English alphabet on them (with examples of items that start with that letter). 

Older students can benefit in a similar way by singing along to the same tune; replacing the letters of the English alphabet with letters of the Greek alphabet or Latin alphabet for simple retention and association. 

👍 Choosing to learn “origin alphabets” can be a great way to create links for complex sounds and spelling later on in their educational careers. 

3. Practice matching letters

Once you’ve got the alphabet song and order down with your student, it’s time to practice matching letters to their different forms (such as uppercase vs. lowercase, or “small letter” forms). There are many different ways to do this. Students may enjoy worksheets, or DIY quiz games done on the whiteboard. 

Not sure where to start? No problem. You can set these up easily by writing uppercase and lowercase forms of a letter across from each other. Be sure to mix them up so that each option isn’t directly across from its matching counterpart! Then, prompt your student to draw lines to each form of the letter, matching them appropriately.

4. Create flashcards

Flashcards can be useful for teaching a student phonemes (or the basic sounds of language, like phonics) and graphemes — or the individual letters that make up a language. You can buy flashcards that come pre-made in a package or help your student to make their own at-home set for some extra hands-on learning opportunities. 

This method of learning can be especially helpful if you’re working to associate phonemes with graphemes of more difficult letters, like “R S T V” or “Y Z.”

Students may also have their own “problem letters” or sounds in the English language that flashcards can alleviate; giving them extra practice in a repetitious and low-stress way. 

5. Read books

Reading, while simple, is one of the best ways to teach your students the “English word alphabet” — helping them to create associations with the sounds that they’re hearing and the letters themselves. 

While there are plenty of apps and internet services that can speed this along; many educators believe that they are no substitute for the parent reading off of the page. This can also be a special opportunity to bond and connect at the end of a long day of learning! Your children love your company.

6. Engage in sensory activities

Alphabet-focused sensory activities are a great way to appeal to students who may be kinesthetic learners. Parents can prompt students to create letters out of a sensory dough, helping them work through the “name” of each letter and the order that they follow. 

7. Do a “book title” scavenger hunt

No time to read right now? No problem. Have your learner pick out a stack of their favorite books and take a look at the titles only. Which letters do they see? Which can they sound out?

Depending on their grade level and ability, you can prompt your learner to “hunt” for a specific letter or sound, building their association between the two concepts. You can also ask them to write them down or track them somehow on a tablet or a pad of paper, giving them practice with visual recognition and recording of the letter itself.

8. Have a baking break

This activity takes a little bit of effort to prepare, but we promise that it’s worth it in the end! All you need to do is purchase a package of letter-shaped cookie cutters from your favorite baking source, and the ingredients to make tasty sugar cookies. 

Assemble the batter with your student and help them to punch the shapes out, sounding out each letter and “name” as you go. If your learner is at the level to do so, you can also prompt them to spell out words once the cookies are baked. Don’t forget to enjoy them after you’re done!

9. Be an alphabet artist

Alphabet artistry is a great way to familiarize your student with a specific letter of the alphabet. Prompt them to create a piece of art using any medium they choose. The catch? They have to create a piece that incorporates a certain letter of their choice.

10. Dance it out

Put the alphabet song on repeat and dance it out with your little learner! After you get any giggles and wiggles out, challenge them to shape their body in a way that matches a letter of their choosing. As they get better at the game, you can challenge them to create a specific “letter dance” or to spell a word out with their bodies. 

This game is a great way to build letter association and recognition skills. It’s also a great way to appeal to kinesthetic learners or to students who may struggle with staying still.

Advantages of learning the alphabet

The alphabet is foundational to our shared understanding of the English language. Other advantages to your student mastering the alphabet include: 

  • Spelling mastery. The English language is difficult. Learning how to easily recognize and “sound out” letters will give your student’s spelling skills a boost. 
  • Reading confidence. Learning the alphabet is the precursor to reading skillfully. If your student is getting ready to read, learning the alphabet now will help them to master phonics concepts and advanced sounds later on. 
  • Writing support. Writing incorporates both spelling and reading skills; as well as a complete familiarity with the alphabet. Your student will be required to write throughout their educational career, so getting started early on their alphabet skills will give them the foundation they need to thrive. 

Explore the alphabet with DoodleEnglish

DoodleEnglish is an app that’s filled with thousands of fun, interactive exercises covering grammar, punctuation, spelling and more!

Designed by teachers, it creates each child a unique work programme tailored to their needs, boosting their confidence and skills in English. Try it for free today!

try doodleenglish for free

FAQs about the alphabet

The phonetic alphabet is known as the NATO phonetic alphabet. It uses words to stand in place of letters for better clarity over the radio. For example: Instead of “A,” someone might say “alpha,” and so on. 

Many use the alphabet song alongside flashcards to teach the alphabet to a beginner or child. Doing this teaches them the order that the letters should fall in, visual recognition of the letters, and associated sounds of each letter. 

Your child should be introduced to the alphabet as early as possible. Early familiarity can help them to experience a higher degree of recognition later on. 

Screenshot 2023-10-13 at 16.29.14

Try DoodleEnglish for free!

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