Colorin Colorado: Helping children read... and succeed!
A bilingual site for families and educators of English language learners
  • small text
  • medium text
  • large text
  • print

Teach Your Child About Letters

By: Colorín Colorado (2007)

Children who know the letters of the alphabet before they go to kindergarten have a big advantage!

Here are some ways you can help your child learn about letters:

Sing an alphabet song

Sing an alphabet song with your child so he or she will learn the names of the letters. You can listen to the alphabet song in Spanish online.

Buy or make alphabet letters

There are refrigerator magnets and puzzles you can buy that are in the shape of the letters A to Z. Or you can draw and cut out the letters on strong paper. Put the letters where your child can play with them.

Teach the alphabet, A-Z

A child who can say the letters of the alphabet – and spell his or her first name – before kindergarten is off to a great start. Here's one way to teach your child the alphabet. Use letters you've bought or made to do the following:

letter mat
  1. Trace the outline of each cut-out letter onto a large piece of paper. Draw the letters side-by-side in the shape of an arc.
  2. Ask your child to count how many letters there are.
  3. Then ask your child to place each cut-out letter onto the letter on the arc.
  4. Teach your child the name of each letter. Introduce about four new letters per day. Say something like "This is the letter A."
  5. Once your child knows the name of each letter, ask him or her to say the name of the letter while putting it in its place on the arc.
  6. Repeat this activity often until your child can recognize each letter, place it in its correct place on the arc, and say the letter's name. It usually takes several weeks for a child to learn all the letters.

Use the letters in your child's name

Say and spell your child's name often. Explain to your child the link between letters and sounds. Say things like, "José, the word jugar begins with the same sound as your name does. José, jugar. And they both begin with the same letter, J."

Make new words by changing letters

Write out a word like lata. Then change the first letter. Have your child sound out the word when it becomes gata and then when it becomes pata.

Next change the last sound, so the word changes from pata to pato. Then change the middle sound, so the word changes from pato to palo. Make a game of it!

Read together every day

Read with your child for at least 15 minutes each day. Experts say this is one of the most important things you can do! Make reading together a warm and loving time. See Fun and Effective Ways to Read with Children for ideas.