Ready to Read: Letter
Here's a short video about letter
knowledge, including suggestions on how to share this important early
literacy skill with children. To view, click the PLAY button
on the left (arrow pointing right).
Letter knowledge is when children understand that letters
are different from each other, that the same letter can be written
different ways, that letters have names, and that letters relate to
specific sounds. Research shows that letter knowledge is the most
important skill in terms of predicting a child's success learning to read.
Most children are ready to recognize letters by sight before they are
ready to translate them into sounds.
Our language, English, requires children to decode words
by making connections between the printed word (called
graphemes) and units of sound (called phonemes).
Reading and writing are correlated - writing reverses this process, we
learn to translate the sounds of words (phonemes) into written words
If a child cannot recognize the differences between
letters, reading becomes difficult and frustrating. They will
struggle translating those letters to sounds. While related to
recognizing and understanding letters is a distinctly different skill.
Children appear to acquire letter knowledge in a sequence
that begins with letter names, than letter shapes, and finally letter
sounds. Knowing the names and sounds of letters helps children
figure out how to say written words. To help develop letter knowledge:
Young children usually learn the letters in their name
first. They are their favorite letters! Write your child’s name where he
or she can see it often and have them write their names in their own way.
Sing the alphabet song together and play with rhymes.
Let your child play with blocks that have letters on them, magnetic
letters, and read alphabet books together.
Point out and name letters when reading books, signs or labels.
Play “I Spy” with letters in the car. Older children can find the
letters in order from A to Z in license plates and signs.
Encourage your child to make letters with clay, wet spaghetti noodles,
or form the shapes with their bodies or other objects.
Write words that interest your child (like dinosaur, truck, or mom)
using crayons or magnetic letters.
Recognize that children learn letter-sound relationships at different
rates. Avoid “drilling” children on letters. Have fun with it.