What's the best way to teach a toddler the alphabet and counting?

Briana - posted on 09/09/2011 ( 21 moms have responded )




I'm not a stay at home mother. I work full time, but I'm out for surgery. So, I was wondering, while I'm out, how to go about teaching my daughter her ABC's and 123's. She's very smart (picking up new sign language every day), but she hasn't quite caught on to her counting and letters. She's just shy of 2 years old and is starting to put sentences together. Any advice would be incredibly helpful. :) Thank you!

Also, has anyone tried the "Your Baby Can Read" program? If so, how did it work out for you? I was considering buying it since she loves being read to.


[deleted account]

Not a fan of Your Baby Can Read. Kids are wired to respond to humans, not machines. It doesn't teach all aspects of reading. (That's the short version of why I don't like it.)

There's no rush to push her to learn those things. If she's ready and wants to learn, do it in everyday life. Point out letters in their natural settings. Count blocks, steps as you walk, etc. Let it be part of play. At this point, I wouldn't do a formal learning time, because that's how young children learn best.

Also, it's more important to recognize letters and numbers and what they mean than to just sing a song and count with no meaning.

Lady Heather - posted on 09/10/2011




We do a lot of reading. The Dr. Seuss ABC book is where she really got into the alphabet. She doesn't know the whole thing yet, but she knows most of her letters. For counting we'd just count for fun with toys and things. She picked that up really fast and knows her numbers to 20 now (she's 27 months).

I think most learning at this age should be done through play and books and stuff like that. No need for special programs. Having a baby that can read will not guarantee a smarter and happier kid later on. A little tv here and there doesn't hurt (my daughter LOVES Dora and Super Why and there's lots of letters and numbers in there), but they mostly learn through interaction with you and the world. It comes pretty naturally.

Charlie - posted on 09/10/2011




The best way to instill a love for books by reading to her daily , you dont need expensive programs at this age play based learning is VITAL.

Just keep communicating , point out signs and read them , explain what she is looking at this way you are engaging her in her everday life through interaction not flash cards and videos , this way her learning will actually relate to her life and intersets.

Numbers can be included in pretty much any game , my 2 year old son can count very well just by playing !!
For example if we play lego we will count how many blocks we have used , we do lots of cooking together where he helps measure and count ingredients he has even started to figure out simple maths like addition.

Good luck and if you would like some ideas for at home have a look at this great facebook community : Play at home mom.

Every game a child plays involves learning from literacy , maths , science and enhancing creativity .....childrens play is much more than just a game.

[deleted account]

We count everything, the stairs on the way down or up (we have 13 lol), the birds in his books, the flowers on his toy, the people in a queue etc etc. We count as he plays (1,2,3 go) and sometimes give him a count if he isn't listening (again 1,2,3). At almost 23 months my son can identify numbers 2 and 9 with two being his preference, every chance we get we count things.

With the abc's from next week we are going to do letter weeks, where we will use play and crafts to practises letters, for each letter the first craft we will do is make an A4 poster of the letter in upper and lower case using different craft materials (glitter, paint, crayon, felt, pasta art, tissue paper etc etc), then we'll make a craft animal relating to the letter, we'll look at and create stories using photos of family and friends connected to the letter, we'll explore foods of the letter , each day we'll do a fun activity based around the letter for for example for b we'll play with a ball,

balloons and bubbles.

But with all of the activities I try to let my son guide us and chat about the things we're doing, I want it to be fun so if he doesn't pick up on a letter it's no biggie he has years to learn that, my real aim with the letters is too teach him more words and give him more understanding as to what those words mean and if the letters come that is a bonus.

JuLeah - posted on 09/10/2011




It is not so important that they can sing the ABC's or count to ten ... what is important is that they understand letters have sounds - 'A' has the sound of ... 'B' has the sound of ....

Rhyming games are important - teach them to listen for sounds

It is a challening idea, I mean .. if a drinking cup is upside down, it is still a drinking cup - they know this and understand this - if an 'M' is upside down, it is no longer an 'M' but a 'W' ... so, puzzles are important - play games with shapes, get them to see shapes ... see the difference between a 7 and an L .....

Games with numbers are important - I don't care much if they can count from 1 to 10, it matters if they understand numbers ... do they know that the number 3 is the same as three cookies, or three fingers ... do they know that five is more then three ... do they know that five dots in a row and five circles in a scattered pattren have the same value ... games with dice, games with cards, count everything with them, the number of shoes they put on, the number of carrots on their plate, the number of galsses on the table

At this age, she needs the basics. Reading will follow and understanding of letter sounds - when she gets letters make souuds, and the sounds blend into one another she will be reading - but don't put the cart before the horse - you can "teach" babies to "read" in that they memorize - but it is not really reading, in that she can't decode and it slows their reading in later years

Keep reading to her, talking about colors, and shapes, and numbers .... when it is time for her to learn things like reading she will take to it like a fish to water


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Kathy - posted on 09/10/2011




I take my 3 year old son to daycare on fridays while i'm in class and on the way in/out we count the steps together. you can pretty much do this with anything. He loves being read to so he learns words as he follows along. Also he loves this PBS show called Word World and it teaches kids how to spell and pronounciate different words. I think it may be the best show yet. Even the characters are "words". i.e Sheep's body spells sheep etc you can check it out online at pbs.com/programs Even I get into it sometimes. Enjoy your time off!

Ez - posted on 09/10/2011




A favorite 'game' of all 3 of my kids in the toddler stage has been 'What starts w/ ___?' It starts out w/ me giving all the answers (like for B: boat, ball, book, bed, etc...) and as they learn more and more I start making THEM come up w/ some of the answers.

Teresa, my daughter started doing this a little while ago. She'd be 'reading' a book, point out a letter, and ask what other words start with it.

[deleted account]

Yea, reading is the best way. I read to gabby daily. I also follow along with my finger so I point out the word when i say it. I assume it will help her with association. I remember my teachers doing this when i was in elementary.

[deleted account]

A favorite 'game' of all 3 of my kids in the toddler stage has been 'What starts w/ ___?' It starts out w/ me giving all the answers (like for B: boat, ball, book, bed, etc...) and as they learn more and more I start making THEM come up w/ some of the answers.

Reading to a child is always the number one academic choice. Counting things everywhere. Teaching to recognize the letters in their name. Making the letters even more meaningful to them (like for my son... instead of K is for key, K is for Kylie.... his sister).

[deleted account]

Songs, repetition, flash cards. I have several different flash cards, Alphabet, numbers, adding and subtracting, animals, action words etc. She loves them because i tell her stories to each card.( i make them up) Like A is for apple, they are shiny and red! They grow on trees and are oh so tasty! Do you like apples?

Ez - posted on 09/10/2011




She should be learning through play at this age. Any structured learning should come much later. I have a 2.5yo who can read all her letters and numbers, and knows how to actually count ('if we buy a treat for you and your two friends, how many do I need to buy?'). She knows the sounds of most letters, will instigate games of eye-spy, and can sound out some small words. And she has never sat down to a 'Your Baby Can Read' movie or deck of flashcards.

She has learned through normal, everyday life. Educational toys (Leapfrog computers are a favourite), a bit of tv, a lot of books, and even more conversation.

Don't put that sort of pressure on yourself or your daughter. As long as you provide her with the opportunity to learn through constructive play and interaction, she will get it in her own time.

User - posted on 09/10/2011




It's much more important at this age that she learns to love books, stories and rhymes rather than abc's as such. As others have said counting ca be incorporated into everyday activities like counting out pieces of fruit etc.Children up the age of about 5 learn better through play rather than formal methods.

Krista - posted on 09/10/2011




Like Lisa, we read, and incorporate numbers and math into our every day lives. We count what we see, read the letters on stop signs and store signs, and take every opportunity to go over these things. So if we see a stop sign, we'll talk about how "Stop" starts with "S", and some of the other things that start with "S", like his name (Sam), and snake, and silly, and slide.

Brianna - posted on 09/10/2011




ive been doing your baby can read for a year now (shes 22 months old) she loves the movies and i found it taughter her what things are (like that a cow is a cow by see the picture of the cow) but it really hasnt helped her actually read. my daughter loves to sing so we sing abcs all the time and now trys to sing it on her own all the time (its not in order though lol) also im doing abc flash cards with her. i started with the first 4 letter and then slowly adding more. we do flash cards randomly threwout the day so she doesnt loose interest and i when im not using the flash cards i hang the letters were workingon on the fridge so we always see them and dont forget to work on them

Minnie - posted on 09/10/2011




I read, talk about letters constantly, incorporate numbers and math into everything we do, etc. When we're out we count everything, identify letters, sounds and numbers on signs we see.

Bonnie - posted on 09/10/2011




Repitition helps, as well as not necessarily just saying the numbers 1-10 or the alphabet but using them with other activities she does throughout the day. For example, if you are reading her a story, ask her what letter does this word start with and point to it for her. Or, when she is eating, ask her to count how many cheerios she has left. Even if she is not fully paying attention (because their attention span at that age is low), she is still hearing it and that's where repitition is key.

Sarah - posted on 09/10/2011




Please do not teach her the alphabet in order. It is not a good way to learn letters. Plus when you do that you say the 'name' of the letter not the sound. Teach her to recognise letters that are significant to her. The letter that starts her name, your name, her best friends name, her favourite toy. Please make sure you use words that start the sound of the letter. For example A is NOT for airplane it is for apple or ant anything that makes the ah sound. I is NOT for ice cream but for ink or indian. At school they will not be taught letters from A to Z but how they are formed and their frequency in words. She doesn't need the alphabet until putting things into alphabetical order.

Also if you have got her flash cards or anything like that to play games with ( a great idea by the way) check the font on them. Kids need to have a font of the way they will eventually write the letters so check letters a and g, they are the ones most usually wrong.' A' needs to be a circle with a stick down the side, if you know what I mean. Also use lower case letters.

I'm sorry if I sound way teachery but it really bugs me when I see stuff for kids in stores which is wrong. It is more complicated to teach letters and numbers than it looks.

Tara - posted on 09/10/2011




I just read to my girls. They like pointing out the letters and numbers and I will tell them what they are.

I also do what Denikka does and make a game out of it using everyday items.

Honestly, with the "your baby can read" thing - I think that if you are just reading to your kids that works better - we use the bedtime stories and my oldest (she's 3) can do all her ABCs and knows her numbers to 20 (sometimes with prompting) - my youngest (she'll be 2 next month) knows her letters by sight, but still has trouble saying them, and same with the numbers.

~♥Little Miss - posted on 09/09/2011




Repetition. Do the abc song all the time, and count to 10 all the time with her. She will get it if she is ready. Hope you recover soon!

Denikka - posted on 09/09/2011




Make a game out of it. My son is now 2.5 yrs and can reliably count to 10 with a little prompting (sometimes he gets impatient and skips numbers XD 1 2 3 4 8 9 10 :P), and we are now working our way to 20. We just started using every day items. Food works, as do toys.
For example, give her 5 cheerios. And then count them with her. And count them again as she eats them one at a time. Or toys. My son loves dinosaurs, so whenever he brings some over, we'll count how many he has. Or blocks is another favorite. He'll make a tower and we'll count how many blocks are in it.
With the ABC's, he doesn't have them down yet, but about a year ago, I'd get him to mimic me when I said the letters. When he could SAY the individual letters reasonably well, I started singing the alphabet song. Now he's started trying to sing along with me.
Just use different things during the day as learning opportunities. Learning never stops, so why should teaching? :P

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