Learning the alphabet and recognizing letters with sounds and pictures is great for developing your child’s brain. The earlier you start and more you practice, the bigger head start your little one will have. Here are 11 ways to practice the alphabet with your toddler.
1. Toys and Puzzles – It’s only natural for babies and toddlers to play, so get them a few toys that catch their attention, and teach them the alphabet. My son has a great time playing with his Mickey Mouse smart pad, which has all the letters as buttons so they can be pressed and heard. He also has a puzzle, and a leap frog magnetic letter toy that says the letter and sound it makes as he puts it in.
2. Books – So most of us know about alphabet books. That’s like parenting 101. Books that match the letters to the pictures are usually best.
3. Alphabet board – Make a magnetic alphabet board to hang on the wall so your toddler can play and match letters to animals and make words. Avoid writing profanity on the board and blaming your toddler to piss off your wife…Click here for DIY instructions to make your own.
4. Songs – As a parent of a 2 year old, I can safely say that I know 4 different versions of the alphabet song. If you sing and perform different versions of the alphabet for your toddler, it will keep them entertained and burn it into their brain like a terrible song stuck in your head! Warning, singing the alphabet song more than 30 times a day may make you want to shoot yourself or an in-law.
5. Alphabet wall art – Even the art and decor you hang in your toddler’s bedroom can promote learning. On our kid’s wall we have a totally cool animal picture alphabet board that our son loves to point and call out the animals. After he wakes from his nap, I can hear him on the monitor saying the letters and making animal sounds from his crib!
6. Storytime – Every week I take my toddler to the local library for toddler storytime. It’s a free program where they have a library employee read, sing and lead the class with different activities to help your toddlers learn different skills. My class sings a version of the alphabet song every week and seeing other older kids sing the alphabet makes my toddler want to join in. Monkey see monkey do right? Most areas have classes like this available and I’m always surprised about the amount of people that don’t know about them.
7. Flashcards – Similar to alphabet books, flashcards show letters and pictures of things that start with those letters. My wife religiously went over flash cards with our son everyday and by the time he was 19 months, he could say most of the letters and identify every single picture on the cards!
8. Watch some TV – Well, you can’t just let them watch anything. I let my son watch shows like Wallykazam, Sesame Street, and Super Why because of the focus on teaching the alphabet. Now keep in mind, you can’t just drop them in front of the TV expecting them to learn on their own. Don’t let your toddler watch more than 1 – 2 hours of parent approved TV a day and also interact with your children as they watch. Help your child answer questions that are asked on the show and give them praise when they follow instructions or identify something.
9. Alphabet Cookies – Alright my son is not a dog, although he does perform tricks for treats. Especially these scrum-didally-umptous little Cookie Monster cookies that have letters on them. Whenever these are on the menu for snack time, I have my little baby man say the letters on each cookie before he can eat them. Teaching a man through his stomach. Is there ever a better way?
10. Sidewalk Chalk – Just another thing to do while outside. My 2 year old can stand about 3 minutes of drawing total (that’s 3 minutes more than daddy). In that time we draw some pictures, break some chalk, and write his name. Just another way to continue learning while you play.
11. While you’re eating out – Most restaurants we go to have kids menus with crayons that you can draw on. Just like the sidewalk chalk, you can write and point out letters on the menu. It’s a great activity to keep your child learning and quiet while you’re out. I see so many parents out at restaurants that are quick to whip out the tablet or cell phone to quiet their child when adding a little more effort to work with them can do the same thing and help them learn.
Practice the alphabet as much as you can and before you know it, your little one will be a pro! Keep in mind, all of these methods work better if you show enthusiasm and actually work directly with your child to help them learn. Starting early and being consistent is key. Thanks for reading!