Introducing Your Toddler to the ABC's
As an elementary teacher turned stay-at-home mom, it has been quite a joy to watch my little guy learn and grow before my eyes. One of the things that I am also truly enjoying is using my knowledge as a teacher to begin introducing and teaching some of the basics like colors, letters and numbers to my toddler in creative and engaging ways. That being said, this summer we worked our way through the alphabet little-by-little, and I thought I'd share some tips and tricks that may be helpful to other moms looking for ideas.
1. Make it relevant. As it was my goal to make it through the alphabet from A-Z throughout the summer, I decided to give our learning a summer theme. I tied each of the letters introduced to a summer related word or idea so that it made it as authentic of a learning experience as possible for my child. Bonus: He was also learning applicable vocabulary in the mix!
2. Have a routine in place. Now this can certainly be flexible, because we all know that parenting a toddler requires this skill. However, I've found that my toddler also thrives on having routines in place. Thus, every morning after breakfast, we do our brief learning time where we come to a small table we have set up in our dining room and dig in to the fun. Try to think through a time of day in which you know you generally have available as well as when you toddler is best able to focus. This may look different for each family and kid.
3. Have visuals available. I printed and laminated a document with the letters of the alphabet that we use to sing our ABC song each day as well as a printable of each individual letter with a corresponding word and image. These visuals serve as our anchors as I introduce a letter, talk about them and review them over time. These don't have to be fancy. Even a note card with a image pasted on would do just fine!
3. Start with a story. Along with a visual, I do my best as part of our routine to have a story ready to read each morning that connects to our theme and letter of the day. Not only does this assist my child in furthering his understanding of the idea at hand, but it also gives me an opportunity to ensure he is hearing at least one new text each day as well. Local libraries will be your best friends for this one. I love putting my books on hold in advance so that I can just swing in and grab them and don't have to hunt for something specific with my little in tow.
4. Make it active. Any way I could get my little guy up and moving and tie it in to our letter of focus, I was all about it. For instance, we played in the arena (sand) for letter "A", blew burbujas (bubbles) for letter "B", and had a picnic for letter "P". Not only does this give your toddler continued practice with a variety of motor skills, but gets them busy exploring their world around them as well.
5. Make it creative. We love art projects in any form in our home, as not only does it give my little guy the chance to explore his creativity but also hone in on his fine motor skills. Through our learning I provided a variety of opportunities to utilize letter themed stickers, dot markers, cut and paste projects, painting and more. Let them channel their inner "Picasso" and be open to however it turns out! And don't forget that Pinterest is always a plethora of ideas for this one too.
6. Make it edible. Anything involving food is automatically engaging for my little one! He loves helping me cook, bake and all around just the opportunity to sample any and every goodie provided. Thus, we tied a lot of our letter learning this summer to food. Be it something as simple as snacking on uvas (grapes) for letter "U" or making our own helado (ice cream) for letter "H", the possibilities with something edible are truly endless.
8. Set realistic expectations. My goal for our ABC adventures this summer was not that my child could name all of the letters of the alphabet and their corresponding sounds by the end. While I certainly have that as a goal for him in the future, right now he is two, and my only expectation for him and myself in this journey is truly to expose him to the alphabet and most importantly to encourage a love for literacy and learning from the get go along the way. Would I love for him to walk away remembering a few letters and sounds in the mix, most certainly, but I am also open to truly whatever it is he takes from these opportunities at this point as well.