Is it just me, or is he adorable? ;)
Isaac has been my climbing, leaping, running, somersaulting, never-sits-still-for-more-than-2-minutes-unless-its-his-idea child. His personality and energy level were a shock to my quiet-walk-loving, sit-down-with-a-book-every-chance-I-get, slightly introverted self. I didn’t know what to expect when it comes to homeschooling this firecracker, and I certainly didn’t know when he would be ready for reading and writing.
When is the right time to teach the alphabet?
This is a question many parents have. It’s hard to know when the right time is since different children seem to learn at different ages. What is the standard? How do we know when our kids are behind? When should we worry?
Many kids start earlier with some encouragement from their parents or family, but not every child is ready for writing early.
So far, Isaac has not been terribly excited about learning the alphabet or numbers formally (sitting at the table or at the computer), unlike his sister at that age; however, when Emma began first grade he wanted some school of his own. I gave him an alphabet worksheet here and there and let him do as he pleased with very little instruction. I found that if I over-taught it would scare him off, but if I briefly shared what the letter was and the sound it made, then walked away, he would be interested for longer periods of time.
Now that he is 4, Isaac has taken more interest in learning the alphabet and even asked to be taught to read! He takes quite a bit of pride in being able to write his letters (much to my surprise), and has worked hard in a preschool workbook I picked up from the dollar store. Here he’s showing off his rows of letters – he had help with the first couple and did the rest on his own.
How did I get him interested in writing?
Well, I didn’t. When children are ready, you’ll know! They will ask to learn when they are interested, like Isaac did. If they have a personality like my daughter Emma, they will just sit down and start writing one day.
I didn’t push Isaac one bit, in fact he has had little-to-no preschool “instruction”.
Is it best to begin teaching your kids as early as possible?
I’m not convinced of that. I think in many cases children are burned out at an early age because of the information drilled into their heads. They become frustrated because they are made to learn things their brains aren’t quite ready for. I think it’s a good idea to expose them to the alphabet, numbers, and letter sounds at an early age, but it should be fun for them! If your 3- to 4-year-old doesn’t show excitement or pride in what they’re learning, there’s no hurry! Just step back and try again at a later time.
I know. I know all about the pressure and the questions from friends and family. Does he know his abc’s yet? Does she count to 100? Why aren’t they in a preschool? However will they learn?
Well guess what? They will learn when they’re ready, whether you send them to preschool or not. It’s okay to trust yourself! You know your child better than anyone else. You even know your child better than preschool teachers. People who have gone to college especially for childhood education.
How to Introduce Handwriting to Young Ones
Just for fun, I wanted to share some different ways to introduce handwriting when your child is ready:
- Find alphabet coloring pages with big block letters to color so that your child can learn the formation of the letters through coloring. If they are interested in animals, find animal-themed printables. If they are interested in vehicles, find transportation-themed printables. For your convenience, I have collected a list of places to find free printables for preschoolers here.
- Provide chunky crayons and help them learn to hold them correctly if needed. If they balk at a correction in pencil grip, don’t fret – just try again at a later time.
- Make sure they have lots of time coloring so that their finger strength and dexterity is given time to develop.
- Find pre-writing traceable printables they enjoy (like this fun transportation set).
- Form letters in sand (or salt).
- Use alphabet tracing apps on your smartphone or tablet.
- Provide dry-erase alphabet workbooks (we love this one!).
- Read alphabet books with them, encouraging them to “write” the letters with their finger. I have a really cool sandpaper letters alphabet book I highly recommend.
Share your thoughts
What has been the best way to teach your little ones the alphabet?
At what ages did they start writing?