Strategy #1: Learn the names and the sounds of the alphabet:
This is so important and is sometimes seen as a little bit old fashioned, but I cannot stress enough how important it is for your child to become familiar with the symbols and sounds that form the foundation of our language. Singing the "alphabet song" is great, but do this whilst pointing to and holding actual letters made from wood, magnets or even play dough.
This way when your child sings "A" they will know what an "A" looks and feels like. Slow down when you come to "L,M,N,O,P" and please let them touch each letter individually! Here is an even better alternative, learn a new song. The sounds and speed in this You tube video by A.J. Jenkins are perfect for Australian kids:
Instead of placing the alphabet in a long line, sequence them in an arc around your child so they can touch each one. Let your child "flip, slide and turn" each letter to form a multisensory link with them. Tell your child the name of the letter and what sounds it makes. Start with those letters that are meaningful to them, such as the first, middle and last letters in their names or use the examples from the song above.
When I work with individual students to Target Dyslexia we always use "Capital" or "Uppercase letters" to start with as these are easier to distinguish from each other. Then we introduce the "Lower Case" (as shown above) letters at a later stage. If you are starting this strategy with preschool children, it would be my recommendation to begin with lower case letters. If your child has been identified as having a specific learning disability such as Dyslexia, then introduce the letters using "Upper Case" first.
At this point I think it's appropriate to talk about handwriting. As I mentioned before, children need to make solid connections between the sounds used within our language and the letters that represent those sounds. This means it is important that they learn how to write properly. Take a look below at how Ella is taught how to write her name.
This may seem "old fashioned", and you might think it a waste of time because our children spend so much time in front of screens and keyboards these days, but I would argue for that very reason we need to encourage our children to learn to write. After all, no computers are allowed during examinations when they get into senior high school.
Therefore, it's important that your child learns how to hold a pencil correctly, sits up straight, uses their non-writing hand to steady the page and begins by writing something meaningful to them, such as their name. If you have pre-school children, please expose them to lower case letters first (but with an Upper Case letter for the beginning of their name, just like Ella did). If you have children in school I urge you to speak to their teacher and ask for a copy of the handwriting being taught at your school. Please remember, all letters begin from the TOP.
Until next time,