Off to School Toolbox: Familiarity with Letters

Before kids go off to school, parents and caregivers are concerned about what they need to know and a basic familiarity with letters is helpful.  But in the words of Dr. Dr. Dan Gartell, readiness is a state of mind, not a state of knowledge.

Having encountered letters before will help kids develop a confident state of mind, instead of feeling unsure and overwhelmed. We can promote this attitude with lots of fun, playful experiences with letters. Here are a few:

familiarity with lettersSigns that kids see every day are useful. They are big and bright. This sign that says stop and the letters are s t o and p. S is the curvy one. It’s name is s and it goes ssssssssssssss.

familiarity with lettersNames are another place with letters. Is there a baby photo with wooden letters spelling out your child’s name? Maybe there are letters on the door of your child’s room. Show your child the letters in his/her name and say them. When ready, help your child print them. Start with just one or two letters.

fun ways to print numbersKids can play letters on the floor or fridge. The sidewalk is like a great big paper for making some. Playdough is fun for making letters. So is sand. These are very tactile & sensory.

familiarity with lettersSome kids may not be very interested, but there are things you can do. Mix up some chocolate pudding. Instead of putting it in bowls, spread some on a plate for fingers to make letters. French fries can also draw letters in ketchup. Mashed potatoes and gravy, pancakes and syrup. Best of all, chocolate cookies.

Reading books several times a week will help your child build some beginning knowledge of what letters look like. You can occasionally talk about the letters with your child, or ask your child to find a particular letter on a page.

Kids need to hear gazillions of words to understand that words are bits of sounds put together like a puzzle and that each letter has its own particular sound. This familiarity with letters, and understanding about letter names and sounds, come from accumulated experiences, preferably fun and playful ones. What play-of-the-day can your child have with letters?

P.S. In case I’m not familiar so that you feel comfortable, here is a page about me. Click and come visit.

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