he knows his alphabet...now what? i'm lost!

Lanie - posted on 07/29/2009 ( 12 moms have responded )

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My son is 17 months, by now he knows the letters of the alphabet, colors, shapes, now he is in the process of learning 123s... Let me just say that i never pressured him into learning or memorizing these things, i just made playtime more educational. well, kids can easily absorb new information so it was really effortless.

Anyways, i dunno whether to start teaching him how to read now or just hold off until he's 2 years old. is there a guideline to follow when it comes to teaching toddlers this young? Plus i really hate having to use the word "teach" on my little boy since i want everything to just flow naturally, no pressure, just fun.

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--- - posted on 07/29/2009

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when you say he knows his alphabet what do you mean by that, do you mean he knows the ABC song or can he recognize each letter from a flash card when not in order? does he know the phonetic sound of each letter individually as well as combination's of letters. does he know the difference between long vowel and short vowel sounds?
If not I suggest working on that. also with shapes is it just the basics or can he distinguish between a decagon, octagon, hexagon, pentagon, trapezoid, rhombus.
does he know the difference between an acute, equilateral and isosceles triangles?
If he does not know the more advanced geometric's I suggest working on them.
With numbers does he just know the sequence of them or can he recognize numerical value even when not given in order.
children have amazing memories so it is not difficult to get a kid to memorize the ABC song or numerical orders or the basic shapes. The trick is to go beyond that and more in depth. I am a Montessori teacher and I can say you are doing a great job with your son. Please don't stop, he wants to learn and from birth to age 6 he will be able to absorb so much. Not only do you want him to have a great memory but also to be able to have useful skills that he can carry over to primary school. Skills like penmanship can be developed now while he is young. get him to use the fingers he will need for writing as much as possible. some good activities are breaking his crayons into small pieces so he is forced to pick them up with his fingers as opposed to fisting them, this will also give your son more control while drawing and he will also be more graceful in his hand movements leading to beautiful hand writing a few years from now.
another activity for developing finger control is using tweezers to pick up cheerios and drop them into a container.
at this age it is important to develop the child's senses, create smelling bottles and have him guess what each scent is, you can later change the scents to be very similar so it is more difficult. play tapes with different instruments and have him pick out what instruments he hears, again you can go from very basic to very advanced. Have you considered having your son start a tot music program such as piano or rhythm and dance? There is so much that you can offer your child that he will not experience in school. I really urge you to google Montessori homeschooling and see what else you can do. there is so much but I don't want to hijack your entire thread here. even if you don't plan to put your child in a Montessori school later on there is no harm in implementing some of the techniques in your home now.
Good luck and if you have any questions please ask me.

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Joanne - posted on 11/07/2012

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i would begin by making sure he knows his letters both upper and lower case and not just the alphabet song. Does he recognise letters out of 'play mode' My daughter is also at the same point and she watches the role ups on the tv and points out the letters. If you want to teach reading start with teaching the digraph sounds such as ch sh th teach them to him as more letters so when he sees them together he knows that it is a different sound to the individual letters. He cant learn to read until he knows these without becoming frustrated etc. Once he knows his digraphs try putting three letters together and learning the simple words like and where each letter is read. words like 'the' are hard to learn a you dont pronounce all the letters. The key focus to any early learnin is ensure the child has a high comprehension of what he is reading so once you have done all of the above start with simple sentences like the cat and dog sat on the mat. follow this with questions like... who is sat on the mat? what is the cat sat on etc. reading the words is not enough comprehension is the key he needs to understand at the same time. I am a primary school teacher and during training noticed a lot of children in the early years of school who could simply read were overlooked by the teacher and was not so included with the learning and by the end of the year their comprehension was much worse than those who didnt know how to read before starting school.

Lora - posted on 08/02/2009

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can he recognize his letters out of suequence? Like on mixed up flash cards? Then let him move on to recognizing letters that go with pictures--a is for apple, b is for bear, then move on to 2-3 letter words and pictures. See how he does and as long as he has fun keep going. I am a teacher and when we work with our PreK or K buddies each week, this is what my kids do with them.

Lanie - posted on 08/02/2009

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@ Kate: well he already recognizes the ABCs, he's always spelling out words he sees, thats why i'm having a hard time getting him to understand the phonics. i should've taught him the phonetics first, then the letter's names. yea, we have that alphabet puzzle mat, which helped him learn the ABCs in a fun way. i'll keep trying, let's see what happens...thanks!

@ Stefania: hmmm...i'm not familiar with that song, better google it =) thanks!

Kate CP - posted on 08/01/2009

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Learning is fun for kids! That's why young ones usually LOVE school. Anyway, onto the important portion of my response. You have to always be careful about teaching "ABCs" instead of the phonetic sounds of the letters. Why? Children will see the word CAT and pronounce it SAT because when you say the letter C it SOUNDS like SEE. So in their mind it often comes out SEE-A-TEE or SAT. Its important to associate sounds to letters before giving the letters names. When teaching the alphabet we always teach it at "Ah, BUH, CUH, Deh, Ee, Fff, Guh"...so on and so forth. Get an alphabet puzzle the kind where each letter is a puzzle piece. As he puts the letters back in the puzzle help him SAY each sound. As you put the A in, instead of calling it an A, just say "Aah", for B say "Buh". Sometimes when you mix several sensations together such as touch and sound and sight it tends to sink in easier. Makes it more of a game, too. Good luck. :)

Stefanie - posted on 08/01/2009

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It helped my daughter to sing the Letter Factory song. "The A says Aah! The A says Aah! Every letter makes a sound. The A says Aah!"

Lanie - posted on 08/01/2009

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er, having trouble teaching him phonics though... i just don't wanna confuse him, thats all. since he's used to referring the A as the letter A, not the sound. its all good, no pressure =)

Stefanie - posted on 07/29/2009

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Next is phonics. My oldest knew all that, phonics and how to count to 10 in English and Japanese by her 2nd birthday. We didn't pressure either but got a lot of crud for it.
Way to go mama!

Lanie - posted on 07/29/2009

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thank u all so much for replying =D i'll keep everything in mind...i guess i'll be a stay-at-home mom until he starts going to preschool!



@Jen: my son can't say the letters right either. he only started sounding out words when he was about 14 or 15 months..i know he's absorbing everything i teach him,but back then he only responds by pointing, or nodding (yes or no). I'll check out "Your Baby Can Read", thanks for the tip!



@Amanda: i can tell that my son's interested because he would always spell out the words he sees, then i'd read the word he just spelled out. yeah i will STILL read to him =)



@Christina: well,he recognizes the letters even when not in order. we'd spell out his name together,spell out words we see everywhere,but he doesn't know the phonetic sound of each letter...so that's the next step for me.

as for the shapes, he only knows the basics,he can identify them. I bought a more complicated shape-sorter with more than 10 shapes just to see if he'd be able to recognize the differences of the shapes and insert them at the right places, and he was able to do it! He got bored right away though, so i guess my next step is to teach the names of those shapes.

As for numbers,he's in the process of recognizing what the numbers look like. So far, he can tell what number 1,2,3, 5,8 and 9 looks like. He doesn't know the numerical value just yet.

I really like the tip you just gave on getting him to use his fingers when it comes to doodling =) and the other suggestions too.



@Marta: thanks, i'll see what bores him out and what interests him...

Marta - posted on 07/29/2009

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Let your son decide what he is going to learn, it's your job to educate (or lead) him in the right direction by offering the option. If he knows the alphabet you can start teaching him which letter is which in other words teach him to identify the letters by doing colouring activities. You're doing an awesome job.

Amanda - posted on 07/29/2009

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My daughter is the same way. She's 20 months old, and learned her ABC's and numbers from flashcards/toys. I figure when she's ready to learn to read, she'll show interest like she has with everything else. The is a product out though called "Your Baby Can Read". Call me old fashioned, but I prefer to read to my child, and let her learn that way.

Jen - posted on 07/29/2009

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My daughter is 20 months and is also very ahead. She is learning the alphabet through recognition. We draw A, B, C and she points to it and says what letter it is. She can't actually say her alphabet yet, but I think recognition is more important than repeating the alphabet over and over. I do developmental research on preschoolers aged 3-5 and I've found that recognition is always a skill lacking in the majority of them. My daughter can also count to at least 3 (sometimes she counts to 5) and we are working on showing her on her fingers and what the numbers look like. She knows some shapes (circle, triangle, star) and some colors. We also do all of her learning with play time. She's also in day care and they are learning there as well.



I think the next step for your son would be flash cards. I think the "Your Baby Can Read" program is a great idea, but way overpriced. You can get the same thing in homemade or store bought flash cards. You could also work on language skills with memory card games and you can do matching and what doesn't belong with that as well. Just keep all the learning with play like you're doing and he should be fine.

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