Is Your Toddler or Preschooler Struggling with Letter Recognition?
THIS is why your toddler or preschooler is struggling with letter recognition.
(HINT: It’s not your child. It’s your STRATEGY.)
Most likely, your toddler or preschooler is struggling with letter recognition because you’ve inadvertently skipped ahead.
It’s easy to skip a step or get sidetracked when you don’t have a roadmap that shows you what to focus on and when to introduce each new pre-reading skill to meet your child right where he or she is at.
You end up feeling scattered because you’re trying random literacy activities without really understanding how it all fits together in the sequence or knowing what comes next.
One common mistake is thinking that your toddler is ready for learning the alphabet when he or she starts pointing to letters and asks, “What’s that?”
The truth is that this “interest in letters” is actually just an eagerness for language. Toddlers simply want to know the names of everything to build vocabulary. Knowing the alphabet letter names and sounds is no more impressive than naming any object!
Toddlers do not understand the abstract concept that these symbols represent sounds in our spoken language, so there’s not much point trying to get your 18 month old to learn the alphabet by putting letters in the sensory bin or stamping letters into play dough.
Phonemic awareness is what really matters when it comes to reading readiness.
Written language is a human invention. The letters in our language only have meaning because we’ve all agreed that a certain symbol represents a sound in our spoken language.
As your child develops phonemic awareness, he or she will be able to hear and identify the sounds in spoken words, understand that spoken words are made up of sounds in a row, blend sounds to make spoken words and segment spoken words into their sounds.
Research shows that phonemic awareness is the best predictor of how well children learn to read!
By focusing on phonemic awareness first, the letter symbols will have meaning for your child when it comes time to associate them with the sounds in spoken words. Plus, blending sounds and segmenting words at the spoken language level prepares your child for decoding written words.
Focusing on the right thing at the right time is the best way to teach smarter and save time and energy!
Our brains are NOT hardwired to read.
Brain imaging studies show that your child’s brain must connect the vision and language parts of the brain and build the reading network in order to learn how to read.
It’s not enough to just read to your child and maybe do some random letter recognition activities or “letter a week” crafts and worksheets. Most children need explicit, systematic, multi-sensory and cumulative instruction in foundational reading skills.
“My son gets mixed up when I show him more than one letter. He also confuses lowercase and uppercase letters. I’m already going super slow, and repeating the same letter recognition activity is getting really boring. 😩”
“My daughter can’t trace the letters on the alphabet worksheet even though they are uppercase, which are supposed to be easier to write. My attempt to teach her how to hold a pencil ended in tears! 😭”
When you don’t have a systematic plan, you’re likely to run into some problems like these parents did. Not to mention, it’s really frustrating to spend so much time planning and prepping each new literacy activity only to have your toddler or preschooler spend 2 minutes on it.
I created The Playful Path to Reading™ to take the guesswork out of helping your child learn to read.
This preschool reading program shows you how to guide your child towards reading by focusing on what really matters to build the reading network in the brain.
You’ll skip the fluff and instead focus your time and energy on specific early literacy skills that will set up your child for success with learning to read. It all starts with developing phonemic awareness!
The best part is that you can be the kind of parent you want to be — present, nurturing and confident — as your child builds pre-reading skills through hands-on activities without worksheets, apps or crafts! Click to learn more.
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About the Author
I'm Lisa Adele, an AMI-trained Montessori teacher and the creator of The Playful Path to Reading™. I help moms guide their preschoolers from pre-reading to early reading using a gentle child-led approach.