Recently I was reading a blog post about getting preschoolers ready for reading. The writer advocated helping kids prepare in the early years for a lifetime of reading. (I fully support this idea!) The writer's tips all involved helping young preschoolers learn the alphabet. I think that learning the alphabet is an important part of building a foundation for literacy. However, learning letter names with no context is not the best way to build early literacy skills.
My wife, a nanny, was running errands with her young kids in tow. As they pulled into a parking lot, the 2-year-old began calling out, "I see a P! P for me!" She pointed to the large Publix sign.
Her name begins with P. She knew that letter. Because that letter was "hers." The letters that will be most meaningful to child are the letters in his name! He will want to know those letters, both what those letters are and eventually how to write those letters.
Look for ways to talk about the letters in the child's name. Offer materials that will help a child identify and use the letters in his name.
Photos by R. Scott Wiley