Five Steps for Teaching the Alphabet Sounds and Letters

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Teaching the Alphabet - Keeping It Positive

While there are many excellent phonics-based reading programs available, teaching the alphabet is the first step for all phonetic reading. The following “no-pressure” method of teaching alphabet sounds and letter names gives students the building blocks for reading

  1. Write out the alphabet (uppercase) on a large sheet of paper. At least once a day, go through the alphabet with the child, pointing to each letter and saying its name together. After a while, begin pointing to the next letter and giving the child a few seconds to say its name before you speak.
  2. When it is clear that the student knows many of the letters, begin by having the child point to a letter that he or she knows and tell you its name. Keep going until the child does not know the remaining letters. Go through these together as before.
  3. When the child can point to each letter and say its name, make sure that he or she recognizes the letters and not just the order of the alphabet. Point to letters in random order, and have the student raise a hand if he or she knows the letter. If not, say the name together.
  4. When the student has mastered the uppercase alphabet, make a similar alphabet chart with the upper and lowercase letters together - Aa Bb Cc and so on. Go through the steps again to learn the lowercase letters.
  5. Teach the sounds by pointing and saying the letter’s name, sound, and key word with the child - “‘A’ says ‘aaaa’ for ‘aaapple’.” Follow the same steps that you used to teach him or her the names of the letters.

While the student is learning the alphabet, do not tell your child to memorize the letters/sounds; simply work with the material each day, and the memorization will take care of itself. Also, keep things positive by focusing on the letters/sounds that the student knows, rather than those he or she does not know. When the student does not know something, it is not a failure, but a chance to work together.