My daughter is 1.3 years old (15 months old), she loves reading books, observing animals, her morning walks and going out to the park to play on the swings. She loves exploring her environment; she has a great curiosity about her surroundings; without being able to talk yet, she asks questions about her surroundings with hand gestures. She is a typical active toddler.
And now she is learning to say her alphabets and sight words through different learning styles. Not so typical and it might come across as a rushed attempt to make my child part of the rat race.
Why did I introduce alphabets early?
I believe that educating young minds is not limited to a classroom.
The education for our children starts right from the point they come into this world. And we as parents always strive to do the best for them. I want my daughter to always want to have a love for learning new things.
When I was in school I learnt things for the heck of it. I was expected to go to school and was expected to learn and I did it, without too much curiosity and joy for the learning process. I loved my school library and recess time and that kept me motivated to keep going back to school. After my training for fellowship through an NGO called Teach For India and my 2 years of teaching in a low-income school (for the same NGO), I realized learning could be fun, a concept that our schools due to a lot of factors are direly not focusing upon.
I want her to love learning and in turn be a proactive owner of her own learning. And for this to happen I don’t have to wait for her to go to school and formally start her education. My daughter loves doing stuff with me. Let me be very honest here – She is not much of an independent player. She likes sitting with me and rolling out the dough or even cutting, peeling vegetables with me. So I am running out of fun things to do with her. Also, she is responding quite well to my attempts. It is not a competition, it is meant to be a fun journey.
These days many parents start teaching their little ones at home. This post and many others in the future will be dealing with the “How to start teaching and how the progression, curriculum or routine could look like”
Things to keep in my mind
- Consciously set aside a minimum of 10 minutes to sit and teach your child
- Every child is different; parents are the best judge of when, how much and what can be introduced to them
- There are several aspects with respect to teaching alphabets mentioned in this article. You can use all the methods mentioned below or a few of it to get started
- Introducing alphabets also means introducing them to words starting with that alphabet letter
- Be patient and keep repeating
Charts & Flash Cards
The above picture is not that pretty but it has its own attractions for my daughter. The alphabet “A” is made out of different items, like felt, rope, tooth-picks e.t.c. Each time she passes the wall, she points to the alphabet and calls out the name of the alphabet.
This wall has huge possibilities. You can get printouts of pictures of animals or objects starting with that alphabet, laminate it and put it on a wall designated as the teaching wall or board. I am getting a notice board and hanging it up in place of the chart. The reason I put this chart picture here is to show that, if you are really serious about something, you don’t need to spend too much money and still get the same results. All the items in the picture were made with things lying around in my home.
Once your little one learns an alphabet, move on to the next, but do not immediately remove the previous alphabet from the board/chart. They need to compare and also we need to check their memory regularly. Keep having the previously learnt alphabets in some form on the board/chart always.
You don’t have to buy special alphabet books to start introducing alphabets to your 1-year-old. It does help to have an Alphabet book at hand but it doesn’t really challenge them or keep them excited for long in my experience. I personally feel the alphabet books in our current market are a tad bit too dry for exciting a 1-year-old to want to revisit the book again. These books consciously insist on learning through the rote method alone. Look at the picture above, how can we expect a 1-year-old to get what the book is about?
Instead, invest in books that have one alphabet per page and maybe pictures of different things whose name starts with that particular alphabet (still not my preferred way of teaching or introducing alphabets; but they might be useful to check or jog their memory). If you want to know my personal favourite Alphabet book, please read about it here.
Is having an alphabet book really necessary?
Nope, not at all! I don’t use the alphabet books to teach the alphabet to my daughter anymore. We started with books initially but she did not show much excitement so I ditched them and decided to try other methods.
I found that once I finished teaching the alphabet through games, writing, and visual aids, the best way to keep the alphabet in their memory is through finding the alphabet in their favourite storybook. It need not be a storybook, it could be a bright newspaper that you daily get at your doorstep. Just keep pointing at the alphabet that you are currently concentrating on and ask them to either say the name of the alphabet or if the print of what you are reading is big then ask them to find the alphabet in there.
Babies and toddlers learn better and faster if we speak or sing to them regularly. There is a lot of evidence and articles advising this to parents. When I was teaching, singing songs was a ritual we followed daily in my class. My kids were in 3rd grade but knew not one word of English but when we started singing songs, they sang along. Songs helped build their vocabulary slowly.
If you want more new and interesting alphabet rhymes/songs to try, please check out “themeasuredmom.com“. Kids love silly antics and if you have the time and interest, then I suggest learning the songs and creating your own dance moves to get them excited and engaged. My daughter communicates with me with a lot of gestures and sounds that she has observed us using with her. After all, we are teaching them the alphabets to become better communicators of our society in the long run.
There are tonnes of games we can create or buy for the little ones to learn. Few of my favourite games that I created for my little one:
Sorting the Alphabets into the right box
It is a simple activity, where my daughter opens the packet and picks out the Letter A and puts them into the box. It is an easy activity to help her with her motor skills and also good for repetition. Each time she picks out the Letter, I ask her “What is it?” and she says “A”. As her intelligence and memory will grow, I can make it more complicated.
I made it all with the items I have at home. A small Amazon cardboard box, cellophane tape and white sheets left over from other activities or bills, that’s all it took! This is just to show how easy it is to create simple games to make learning fun.
Bring me that stone
Again another very easy to make and fun game. You can use a correction pen or tape to write the letters on the stone. And as the name suggests, you have to ask your child to pick up the stone with the said letter and bring it to you. I again did it with only the alphabet A. Because at this stage repetition is the key. We are not trying to test them yet.
Repetition is the Key
You can sit and help your child trace on sand, water, slate or even in tracing books, It is such a fun activity for every child – given that they like to sit and run their fingers through sand or water. It is not to teach them to write but to just familiarize them with the letter.
Mishika’s Sight word book
There is a lot of debate on whether parents should allow children to use IPADs, Tablets or watch TV, going on. And fair enough, there are enough cons and pros out there for each team. I fall somewhere in the middle. My daughter is just 16 months old, so I need to be very conscious of what I show her on IPad. I am currently only using an app called “Book – creator” to create books in IPad with sight words and alphabet letters in it. She tries to imitate the sounds for the words and sometimes even gets them correct!
Use Book-Creator app to create beautiful “real book” like content for your child
Through these activities, I have seen an increase in her vocabulary. I spend more intentional and well planned time with her. My intention is for challenging myself to keep her actively learning and engaged through different learning styles. I will be updating this space with more ideas on how to use technology and other aids effectively to teach kids.
I hope you found a few of the above ideas useful. Let me know in the comments section if you have created some interesting alphabet games to play with your little one.