Learning the sounds of the letters of the alphabet is important for early literacy skills
The process of early literacy begins at birth and should be supported by families and ECD practitioners that help lay the foundations for formal teaching or reading and writing when children enter Grade 1. Teaching our children, from a young age, to learn the sounds of the letters of the alphabet is an important building block for early reading and writing skills.
When you teach children the alphabet, you simply teach them a collection of letters and sounds. For our children to become literate they need to be able to recognise the symbol of each letter and the sounds connected with that letter. The diagram below is based on the National Curriculum Framework for birth to 4 (NCF) which shows the communication outcomes expected for young children.
At first, a child should listen and learn different sounds for each letter, as we say it, and not its name in the alphabet, e.g. [b] – /buh/ not /bee/. Teaching children to pronounce letters phonetically helps children learn the relationships between the letters of written language and the sounds of spoken language. Once our children start to understand the word patterns and recognise the symbols they begin to acquire the knowledge for later learning (reading and writing) in Grade 1.
As children learn best by using their five senses, you can teach children to recognise the sounds and shapes of the letters of the alphabet in various ways:
- Playing with plastic letter shapes
- Use play dough to make 3D letters
- Colouring in pages with 2D letter shapes
- Use arts and craft activities to make shapes of the themed letter for the week
- Sing songs such as the “Alphabet Song,” and by reciting rhymes with a child
- Alphabet themed reading books
- Write the letters on different colour circles and let the child hop between the different circles (instructions to activity below)
What is an important part of the learning journey for children is to make it a fun and playful experience. Make up fun games so your child enjoys learning with you.